ALEX Learning Activity


The Life Cycle of Butterflies With Popplet

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Thad Looser
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2166
The Life Cycle of Butterflies With Popplet
Digital Tool/Resource:
Web Address – URL:

Creating and collaborating are two key components of any engaged classroom. In this learning activity, students work together using digital tools to create a presentation that will be shared with their fellow classmates. All living things share four common characteristics (birth, growth, reproduction, and death). This activity will focus on the life cycle of a butterfly and how a similar cycle is seen in all living things. Critical thinking skills will be on full display while students communicate their ideas to the class.

This activity was created as part of a collaboration between Alabama Technology in Motion and ALEX. Activity author recommended by TIM Trainer Barry Wiginton.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
6 ) Create representations to explain the unique and diverse life cycles of organisms other than humans (e.g., flowering plants, frogs, butterflies), including commonalities such as birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
Disciplinary Core Idea: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Create representations to explain the unique life cycles of organisms other than humans.
  • Create representations to explain the diverse life cycles of organisms other than humans.
  • Identify relevant components (organisms, birth, growth, reproduction, and death) of their representations.
  • Describe relationships between components in their representations.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Create
  • Explain
  • Representations
  • Unique
  • Diverse
  • Commonalities
  • Life cycles
  • Organisms
  • Birth
  • Growth
  • Reproduction
  • Death
Students know:
  • Organisms are born, grow, reproduce and die in a pattern known as a life cycle.
  • Organisms have unique and diverse life cycles.
  • An organism can be classified as either a plant or an animal.
  • There is a causal direction of the cycle (e.g., without birth, there is no growth; without reproduction, there are no births).
Students are able to:
  • Create representations to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
  • Explain the unique and diverse life cycles of organisms other than humans.
  • Explain commonalities of organisms such as birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
Students understand that:
  • Patterns of change can be used to make predictions about the unique life cycles of organisms.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Heredity and Diversity

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
L4.5: Plants and animals have life cycles. Both plants and animals begin life and develop into adults, reproduce, and eventually die. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.3.6- Observe and recognize the major stages (birth, growth, reproduction, and death) in the life cycles of organisms other than humans (e.g., flowering plants, frogs, butterflies).

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 3
R6) Produce, review, and revise authentic artifacts that include multimedia using appropriate digital tools.

Insight Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students will:
  • produce authentic artifacts using digital tools using various forms of media.
  • review and revise authentic artifacts using digital tools.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • multimedia
  • artifacts
  • Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
Students know:
  • a variety of digital tools in which they can create or revise authentic artifacts to share their knowledge.
Students are able to:
  • design and create authentic artifacts using approved digital tools that meet COPPA guidelines.
  • review an authentic artifact to revise with new or additional information.
Students understand that:
  • everyone can be an author, producer, director, etc.
  • , using digital tools.
Learning Objectives:

  • Using the Popplet app, students will collaborate in groups to create a presentation that outlines and describes details of the butterfly’s life cycle (birth, growth, reproduction, and death).

  • Students will produce and share a completed digital presentation of knowledge gathered from the research of a butterfly’s life cycle with other members of the class.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. Prior to this learning activity, the teacher will read to their class the Dr. Seuss book, “My, Oh My--A Butterfly!” During the reading, the teacher should stop frequently to ask questions and access prior knowledge of butterflies. Other third-grade level books on butterflies could be used to access prior knowledge as well.

  2. After reading the book, pair students together, allowing them to collaborate and try to determine what four characteristics all living things have in common.

  3. The teacher should allow students the opportunity to present their ideas to the class to create a controlled discussion of the four characteristics all living things have in common.

  4. To introduce the learning activity, the teacher will pull up the app “Popplet” on a digital device, and allow students to view the app as a group.

  5. The teacher will work through and create an example Popplet that describes the life cycle of a different living thing (frog, flowering plant, kangaroo, etc.) while the class observes and learns.

  6. The teacher will then give each pair of students a digital device. The teacher will walk each group through the designing of a mock Popplet to ensure everyone knows how to properly use the app, and properly complete the learning activity.

  7. When the teacher is confident that each student knows their role, they will explain the details of their learning activity of the life cycle of butterflies.

  8. The learning activity should include the following: A central Popplet, which is the main idea (labeled, “The Life Cycle of Butterflies”). Four new Popplet branches should extend from the central Popplet (labeled: Birth, Growth, Reproduction, and Death). Four more Popplet branches will extend from each of those four Popplets and will be used to insert interesting facts about the birth, growth, reproduction, and death of a butterfly.

  9. Students will work together to create the basic Popplet design. They will be researching sixteen interesting facts in all about the butterfly and insert those into the appropriate Popplet box.

  10. Working within Popplet, students will upload appropriate pictures to represent at least eight of their individual Popplet boxes. How to upload a picture will be demonstrated by the teacher prior to the learning activity.

  11. This process could take up to two or three days of science class time to create.

  12. During the learning activity, the teacher will walk around the room, helping students with questions concerning their Popplet presentation. Before a student is finished, the teacher must read through and approve their presentation before it is viewed by the entire class. Students will be given the opportunity to change anything about the presentation that needs to be revised as determined by the teacher.

  13. If some groups finish before others, the finished groups can walk around the room playing the role of the teacher helping others move quicker through the process of creating a Popplet about the life cycle of a butterfly.

  14. When all the groups are finished creating their Popplet presentation, they will collaborate once again to determine who will say what during their presentation to the entire class.

  15. The conclusion of this activity needs an entire science block of time. Each group will present the information to the class sharing their interesting facts about the birth, growth, reproduction, and death of butterflies.

  16. During each presentation, the teacher can ask questions to truly access student learning. After each presentation, allow the other groups an opportunity to ask questions of the presenters.

Assessment Strategies:

Students’ will first be assessed by how well they participate in the paired activity. If one partner did more of the work, or if a partner caused unnecessary conflict, points should be deducted from this assignment. The presentation of the material will also be taken into consideration. Since the presentation has to be approved by the teacher before completion, the overall design should be appropriate. Each partner should speak and share their information with the class equally to earn full credit. After all the groups have presented their information, have each student fill out an exit slip. On this slip, each student should recall the four characteristics all living things share, as well as three things they learned about the life cycle of a butterfly that they did not know before.

Advanced Preparation:

Teachers must be familiar with creating a Popplet using the app. They must also ensure that the app is properly installed on enough school/class devices to be paired in groups of at least two students. This brief screencast tutorial will guide teachers in how to create a Popplet of their own:  How to Use Popplet.

Variation Tips (optional):

An appropriate variation would be for each student group to make a Popplet on the life cycle of different types of animals instead of all students doing the activity on a butterfly.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
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