This unit plan is designed for students in years 6-8.
When someone mentions the word ‘butterfly’, what image pops into your head? Chances are it’s the monarch or the white butterfly, as these are our most visible butterflies. Almost all of the butterflies in New Zealand are native and most are endemic. Compared to big, colourful species from other countries, our native butterflies are small and secretive.
Our butterfly resources explore our native and introduced butterfly species. It highlights the science behind butterfly life cycles, how moths and butterflies differ and how butterflies defend themselves. Students learn how to become citizen scientists and engage in interesting and authentic research.
This comprehensive unit plan includes both scientific and literacy activities. It is designed for years 6-8. If you are looking for a simpler, quicker look at butterflies, refer to the Butterflies lower primary unit plan.
NOTE: the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust tagging project finished in 2021.
The learning outcomes of this teacher resource are that students will:
- learn about native and introduced butterflies, their habits and their life cycles
- learn about butterfly defence mechanisms
- learn how tagging helps scientists learn more about monarch over-wintering habits
- learn how to collect research data for the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust.
Students will meet these learning objectives by:
- viewing PowerPoint presentations on native butterflies to become familiar with their identification, location and habitats
- investigating how butterfly size, habitat and larval food sources affect which butterflies we see in our own locality
- using the Monarch butterfly life cycle interactive to extend both their understanding of the
- life cycle process and to learn specific scientific vocabulary
- raising monarch and/or white butterflies to observe their life cycles
- reading about butterfly defence mechanisms
- investigating monarch migration and over-wintering habits in New Zealand
- tagging monarchs for research and/or walking transects to collect data.
Download the unit plan.
Related unit plan
For a comprehensive unit plan, including both scientific and literacy activities designed for years 1–5, go to Butterflies (lower primary) – unit plan.
Download the Counting Coppers Unit Plan by Bianca Woyak, Burnside Primary School on the Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust website. It is aimed at levels 2–4 and encourages students to work as citizen scientists to observe and record sightings of copper butterflies and participate in an action project.