Literary Sparks: Science, Grade 2


LAFS.2.RI.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area

LAFS.2.RI.3.9 Compare and Contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.

LAFS.2.SL.1.1  Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about Grade Two topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  1. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions
  2. Build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others
  3. Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion.


SC.2.L.15.1: Observe and describe major stages in the life cycles of plants and animals, including beans and butterflies.

Big Idea: Heredity and Reproduction

A. Offspring of plants and animals are similar to, but not exactly like, their parents or each other.

B. Life cycles vary among organisms, but reproduction is a major stage in the life cycle of all organisms.


Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly

By Alan Madison

Call Number: Y PIC MADISON, A.

The book Velma Gratch and The Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison at the Jacksonville Public Library

It's hard to be Velma, the littlest Gratch, entering the first grade. That's because everyone has marvelous memories of her two older sisters, who were practically perfect first graders. Poor Velma—people can barely remember her name. But all that changes on a class trip to the magnificent Butterfly Conservatory—a place neither of her sisters has ever been. When a monarch roosts on Velma's finger and won't budge for days . . . well, no one will forget Velma ever again. Acclaimed and bestselling illustrator Kevin Hawkes and author Alan Madison celebrate everything butterfly—from migration to metamorphosis. Watch as Velma Gratch metamorphosizes from a timid first grader into a confident young scientist!

#Literary Sparks

  1. Do you have any older siblings (sisters or brothers) that teachers have known before you? What were they known for? Or are YOU the oldest sibling…what are you known for? Why is it important for Velma to have something unique/special to be remembered for?
  2. What is Velma’s favorite subject in school? Why? (p. 8)
  3. Where does Velma go when she wants to learn MORE about butterflies than she learned in school science class? What else does she learn about butterflies there? The library, p. 11
  4. What is Velma’s favorite type of butterfly? The orange and black monarch, p. 12
  5. What are the three words that Velma repeats so she can remember them? What do they mean?
    1. Metamorphosis: means change (egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly), p. 8
    2. Conservatory: place where butterflies are collected and cared for, p.13
    3. Migration: travel (Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico to stay warm in the winter), p. 18
  6. Is it okay for Velma to hold the butterfly on her finger for so long? What should she NOT do to the butterfly? Yes, but she should NOT touch the butterfly’s wings because she could accidentally rub off the scales and that is not good, (p. 15)
  7. Does Velma go through a change in the book? Is she the same at the end of the book as she was at the beginning? What happened?


The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar

By Laurence Pringle

Call Number: Y 595.781392 PRINGLE

The book The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle at the Jacksonville Public Library

Kids often spot woolly bear caterpillars creeping across the ground in fall, but these furry-looking creatures seem to disappear as quickly as they pop up. Where do they come from in autumn, and where do they go? In fact, they live throughout North America all year long. In vivid storytelling style, Laurence Pringle uncovers the secret life of the woolly bear caterpillar, following one caterpillar as she feasts, tiny and hidden, in the tall summer grass; molts and grows; then sets off on the fall journey where she's most likely to be seen. Packed with surprising details (did you know that woolly bears can survive freezing temperatures by producing a natural antifreeze?), this book will appeal to every child who's been lucky enough to spy one of these beloved caterpillars—and to anyone who'd like to.

#Informational Sparks

  1. Read p. 2: what is Bella? A banded woolly bear caterpillar
  2. How is Bella similar to Velma’s caterpillar (on p. 8)? How is she different?
  3. Read pp. 23-24. What is happening to Bella? Can you remember the word for “change” that Velma Gratch learned? Metamorphasis Are the phases for Bella and Velma’s butterfly named the same?
  4. Read pp. 25-26. What time of day does Bella come out?
  5. What is a difference between adult butterflies and moths? Butterflies are out in the daytime, moths like being out at night.
  6. What is similar about butterfly caterpillars and moth caterpillars? The life cycle/process

#Investigative Inquiry

Learning Outcomes Statement:

The primary activity reinforces that all living things have a life cycle, and focuses on the life cycle of a butterfly/moth. Students will learn that the major stages are: egg, caterpillar/larva, pupa/chrysalis, and adult butterfly. They will have the opportunity to work with a teammate to identify the stages and what happens during each one. The feeder project will allow students to observe butterflies, either as a class activity or to take one home and observe there.

Butterfly Life Cycle KWL Chart & Facts Worksheets

Materials Needed:

Crayons/colored pencils


Notes for Introduction:

Please be good listeners, as you will need to pay attention to make sure you understand what we’re doing. First, EVERYTHING has a life cycle. This includes plants, animals, fish, birds, and insects. Life cycle is another way of saying “growing up.” We humans have a life cycle. Let’s take a minute and use your crayons/colored pencils to draw yourself as a baby, you now, you as a teenager, and you as an adult. That’s YOUR life cycle! Next, we are going to work as a group on a KWL chart about the butterfly life cycle. (Mark off three sections on the board and write:  K=What We Already Know, W=What We Want to Know, L=What We’ve Learned). Under K, write down students’ suggestions for what they already know about how butterflies come to be. Under W, write down what they would like to learn. Then read The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle. After reading, write down students’ thoughts on what they learned.  To recap, the life cycle of a butterfly or moth is: eggcaterpiller or larvachrysalis or pupaadult (butterfly or moth). To wrap up this activity, you will work with another student to fill out the Butterfly Cycle Facts worksheet. After reviewing the worksheet answers as a group, students can use crayons or colored pencils to illustrate the stages of the butterfly’s life cycle.

Image representing a butterfly feeder

Create a Butterfly Feeder

Materials Needed:

  1. 10 inch plastic plant saucer
  2. Single hole punch
  3. Wire cutters & pliable wire, cut into 2-ft lengths
  4. Pony beads, decorative beads, etc.

**small stones & glass marbles (optional)

Notes for Introduction:

Note to teacher: Students can work together to make 3-5 feeders to hang where the class can observe the feeders at school, or they can work individually and take a feeder home for observation.

First, punch four holes in the plant saucer (to make a square around the edges). Next, put a piece of wire through one hole and twist to secure. Do this for the remaining holes. Then, string pony beads on the wire for decoration. Twist all four wires together at the top and make a hook for hanging. Put cut up fruit (such as bananas, melon, oranges, and strawberries) in the feeder and hang from a tree. Observe butterflies coming to the food buffet!

**If you’d like to make a butterfly/pollinator water station, place small, flat glass marbles or small lightweight stones in the saucer and add some water. Butterflies can sit on the marbles/rocks and drink the water.

Additional Library Resources/Materials to Share:

Y 595.789 LAWRENCE A Butterfly’s Life by Ellen Lawrence

Y 595.789 LUNDGREN Butterflies and Moths by Julie K. Lundgren

Y 595.789 PARKER Life As A Butterfly by Victoria Parker

Y 595.789 PYERS Butterflies Up Close by Greg Pyers

Y 595.789 STEWART Butterfly or Moth? How Do You Know? By Melissa Stewart

372.35044 SKILL Skill Sharpeners, Science, Grade 2 by Guadalupe Lopez

372.6044 ROCKWELL Linking Language: Simple Language and Literacy Activities Throughout the Curriculum, By Robert Rockwell

507.8 CITRO The Curious Kid’s Science Book: 100+ Creative Hands-On Activities for Ages 4-8 by Asia Citro

Questions for Feedback and Reflection:

  1. What is the B-I-G word for going through a change? Metamorphosis
  2. Can you name the four life cycle stages of a butterfly/moth?

egg →caterpiller/larva→chrysalis/pupa→adult

  1. True or False: every living thing (plants and animals) has a life cycle. True
  2. What are some of the differences between a butterfly/moth life cycle and a human life cycle?
  3. What stage are you at in YOUR life cycle? What about other people in your family?

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#Science Sparks Content

Kids Info Bits

National Geographic Kids

Science in Context

General Science Collection

National Geographic Virtual Library

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