Enacting Life Cycles through Movement: The Frog and Butterfly

Grade Level: 1st
Unit Topic(s): Animals and Plants, Science
Art Subject(s): Creative Movement, Dance
Academic Subject(s): English-Language Arts, Science, Visual and Performing Arts


Students choreograph and perform dance sequences based on the life cycles of butterflies and frogs. With the accompaniment of narration and music, students use their bodies to illustrate birth, growth, and transformation.

This project was inspired by a CoTA Collaboration with Janet Booth and her first-grade students at Olympic View Elementary School, Chula Vista Elementary School District

CoTA Artist: Leonardo Francisco
Profile photo of Leonardo Francisco
Leonardo Francisco, CoTA Artist (BA Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego). Leonardo Francisco has worked in a multitude of disciplines, including printmaking, collage, drawing, digital painting, film, comics, samba, and creative movement. He utilizes creative movement within the human body as an innovative form of multidisciplinary exploration and education. Leonardo’s eclectic approach was instrumental in his former position as director of dance for the Super Sonic Samba School and in his current work as a lead artist with CoTA, and resident artist with Young Audiences San Diego.
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Learning Objectives



Students explore the concept of metamorphosis and life cycles in animals and plants.

Students understand that life cycles are different for various animals and plants.



Students create movements that reflect their environment.

Students imitate and practice a wide range of movements.

Students choreograph dances.



Students practice nonverbal communication skills.

Students use multiple approaches to illustrate a single concept.

Students work together to create and perform dances.

Students evaluate various dance movements and identify the ones that best express a specific stage in an animal’s or plant’s life cycle.

Lesson Outline

Demonstration of Learning:

Dance Performance

Number of Sessions: 6 | Length of Each Session: 1 hour

Preliminary Preparation

Examine Story-Telling Dance
Goal: View examples of story-telling dance.

Students look at examples of story-telling dance. Demonstrate how stories can be retold through movement.

Lesson Activities

Introduce Creative Movement
Goal: Introduce students to dance movement through an example.

Students create and perform dance based on The Cat in the Hat.

Assessment: Do students understand how to create a story through dance? Do students understand how certain movements can represent parts of a story?


Practice Locomotor and Axial Movements
Goal: Explore different movement.

Lead students through series of exercises exploring the elements of dance. Students practice a variety of movements, including locomotor and axial movements.

Assessment: Do students understand different elements of dance? Do students understand what locomotor and axial movements are?


Study Metamorphosis
Goal: Learn about metamorphosis.

Students study metamorphosis. Students describe physical changes that occur in the life cycles of apples, butterflies, and frogs. Students discuss how processes like stories can be illustrated through movements.

Assessment: Do students understand metamorphosis? Are students able to describe life cycles for plants, animals and bugs? Do students understand how these processes can be described through dance?


Create and Rehearse Dance Sequences
Goal: Create and rehearse dances.

Students compose and rehearse metamorphosis dances.

Assessment: Are students able to translate the metamorphosis process into movements with their bodies?


Discuss and Revise Dance Sequences
Goal: Discuss and revise performances.

Students discuss performances and revise movements and sequences for clarity, expressiveness, and simplicity.

Assessment: Are students able to reflect on performance and look for improvements? Are students able to make revisions that add clarity? Are student movements expressive? Are student movements simple?


Reflect on Creating Dances and Performing
Goal: Write about the process and performance.

Students write in journals about dance creation and performance.

Assessment: Do students remember the process leading up to performances? Are students able to explain their dance?


Perform and Share with Others
Goal: Perform at assembly.

Students perform frog metamorphosis dance for parents, students, and teachers at assembly.

Assessment: Are students able to perform in a clear way? Do students remember all the movements in the process?


Write Thank You Notes
Goal: Thank the artist while remembering the process.

Students write thank-you letter to artist, noting memorable experiences.

Assessment: Were students able to remember the process of creating dances? Are students able to remember specific instances during the process?

Alternative Applications

Create dance patterns and sequences for stories, mathematical equations, scientific concepts (gravity, force, vibration, magnetism, weather, changing states of matter, etc.), and historical events.

Resource Links

  • Telling a Story through Dance

    A lesson plan provided by The Kennedy Center ArtsEdge program that introduces students to the idea of telling stories through dance. The lessons focus on the story of the Nutcracker as told through ballet.

  • Using Picture Books to Teach Characterization

    A lesson plan by Sharon Roth to support student exploration of character development through picture books. The lessons are geared towards third through fifth graders but can be adapted for younger students. Resources include a selection of books and graphic organizers for story mapping and characterization elements.

  • Life-Cycle Handouts

    Enchanted Learning has a selection of labeled and blank handouts that can help students identify and understand the stages of animal life cycles. This link will take you to the frog life-cycle handout.

  • Butterfly Life Cycle

    The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University provides beautiful photographs of the four stages of a butterfly life cycle and provides extensive descriptions of each stage.

Student Works

Coming Soon

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