Dance with the Butterflies
An adventure in Universal Design for Learning

About the Project
Our Work
Our Projects

About the Project

What is this? Susan Silverman and Sarah MacPherson have put together a most challenging Internet project - A Dance with the Butterflies - based upon the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning).

What are the principles of UDL?* The UDL framework proposes that educators design lessons with three basic kinds of flexibility:
1. Multiple formats and media are used to present information. Examples: Illustrations, pictures, diagrams, video or audio clips, and descriptions
2. Teachers use multiple strategies to engage and motivate students.
3. Students demonstrate learning through multiple performance and product formats.

UDL calls for three goals to consider in designing lessons:
1. Recognition goals: these focus on specific content that ask a student to identify who, what, where, and when.
2. Strategic goals: these focus on a specific process or medium that asks a student to learn how to do something using problem solving and critical thinking skills.
3. Affective goals: these focus on a particular value or emotional outcome. Do students enjoy, and appreciate learning about the topic? Does it connect to prior knowledge and experience? Are students allowed to select and discover new knowledge?

~~A most helpful explanation of UDL may be found at Growing Ideas.~~

*UDL explanation taken from A Dance With the Butterflies Project Information page.

Our Work with the Project

The Life Cycle of the Butterfly is a Science unit for second grades in our community, so this project fit in perfectly with our curriculum. The unit includes each child having her/his own caterpillar to observe, along with a notebook in which findings are recorded. See a Storyline of the unit here.

Implementing the UDL Principles - Firstly, I wanted to be sure that I followed UDL principles in designing my lessons. I also met with our district Technology Integration Specialist, Gail Treanor, to discuss Assistive Technology available in Arlington. The following are the UDL principles I considered and how I addressed them:

1. Multiple formats and media are used to present information.

2. Multiple Strategies to engage and motivate students. For this principle, I decided to focus on learning styles and incorporated the following throughout our project:

3. Students demonstrate learning through multiple performance and product formats. As I was planning our work for the project, I actually considered this principle first. I wanted the children to have many options in presenting their knowledge of the Life Cycle of the Painted Lady to the class and me. You can view the assignment given to my students here. It should be noted that my students came up with even more ideas than those on the assignment!

Their presentations served as an assessment, as well. Here is a sampling of the amazing work they produced.

Andrea's beautiful 3-D models using Model Magic. Each stage has typed explanations.

Giulia's lovely paintings with descriptions about each stage on the back.

Ashley's fantastic computer generated images which she used for her "Play Teacher" (Teach the Class) lesson presentation.

Sam's phenomenal "Butterfly Jeopardy" Game was not only a favorite with the class, but served as a wonderful review of many concepts, as well as incorporating math!

Stefan's board game "Metamorphosis" simply blew us away! Players used little larvae caterpillars and matching butterflies as they "morphed" their way through the board. We thought this game was so great that Stefan should consider marketing it!
Erin's spectacular "Flutter's Journal" shared the story of a painted lady's life cycle from an up close and personal point of view. See the text of this treasure below.


by Erin

Saturday, June 3, 2006

My Painted Lady mother just laid me on the leaf of a mallow plant. I'm waiting to hatch. It will probably take 3-5 days until I hatch from my egg. Inside, I dream about flying from flower to flower sipping sweet nectar. Also, I'm wondering what my mother looks like. Soon I'll be ready!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Hi! I'm Flutter the caterpillar. Right now I am munching on leaves. I do this all the time because I'm a growing larva. Soon I will be molting. I'll molt 2 or 3 more times before I become a chrysalis. Now I am going to climb higher in this plant and hang in a J-shape.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Now I am in the pupa stage and I have formed a chrysalis. I'm hanging from a stem and I am brown with a streak of gold. Inside my wings are forming and I'm becoming a butterfly. Making big changes like this is called a metamorphosis. When my chrysalis is very dark, you'll know I'm about to emerge. Wow! I think I'm ready!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Finally I'm a beautiful adult butterfly. My wings are folded up and damp so I have to shake them out and dry them. After I do that you'll be able to see my wings. They are orange on the inside and brownish on the outside. When I feel hungry I'll fly to a flower and sip nectar with my proboscis. Soon, I'll find a mate and lay eggs of my own. Watch for me in your garden!


This online version of Erin's journal does not do it justice. The actual journal is hand-written in Erin's precious perfect printing. Each page also includes photos of the stage with Flutter's comments beside each; for example, on the chrysalis (pupa) page there is a photo of a painted lady in a J shape and Flutter is saying "It takes perseverance to make a chrysalis."
Simply fabulous!!!

Other Alternative Assessments
Interactive Assessment Worksheets - Scroll down to the Life Cycle section for Butterflies
Butterfly Online Quiz
Interactive Circle Diagram - Ask children to create the life cycle of the butterfly or another animal

More Resources
Teaching Strategies
Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation
Differentiated Learning Rubric

Butterfly Life Cycle
Painted Lady Life Cycle Sequencing Cards
Painted Lady Life Cycle Book for Fluent Readers
Butterfly Life Cycle Book for Early Readers
Butterfly Life Cycle in French
Butterfly Life Cycle in Spanish
Butterfly Life Cycle in Italian
Pasta Butterfly Life Cycle
Life Cycle Animation - Movie clip of monarch metamorphosis

Butterfly Fun and Games
Live Butterfly Cam
Butterflies at Enchanted Learning - an AMAZING resource - be sure to check out entire page!
Billy Bearís Butterfly and Bugs Page - Lots of info, ideas,and games
Fun Butterfly Activities

Teacher Tools
Life Cycle of the Butterfly - Lesson by Lesson - Excellent resource!
Earth's Birthday Project - Butterflies - Another excellent resource!
Study Life Cycles with Butterflies - A lesson plan for teachers from Scholastic
Caterpillars to Butterflies - Written for younger children, but many great ideas
Symmetrical Butterfly Project

Addressing the Standards
Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

  • Recognize that plants and animals go through predictable life cycles that include birth, growth, development, reproduction, and death.
  • Describe the major stages that characterize the life cycle of the frog and butterfly as they go through metamorphosis
  • Recognize that animals (including humans) and plants are living things that grow, reproduce, and need food, air, and water.
  • Describe ways in which many plants and animals closely resemble their parents in observed appearance.
  • Recognize that people and other animals interact with the environment through their senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.
  • Identify the ways in which an organism's habitat provides for its basic needs (plants require air, water, nutrients, and light; animals require food, water, air, and shelter).

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