Metamorphosis introduces students to the process by which several animals grow from infant form to adult form. Students will discover several animals and insects that undergo this process. They will also learn that there are two types and be able to explain each one. 

There are several suggestions listed in the “Options for Lesson” section that you can add to the lesson if you wish. One option is to raise an amphibian or insect from egg to adulthood in the class, if possible. Another option is to take students outdoors to discover different insects or amphibians in different stages of metamorphosis.

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What our Metamorphosis lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Metamorphosis teaches students about the process by which certain insects and amphibians change from birth to adult. Students will learn that there are two types of this process and be able to explain the stages of each one. The lesson is for students in 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson requires internet access as well as construction paper, in addition to the handouts. You will also want to ensure you gather images for the lesson opening.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page contains several suggestions for additional activities or alternatives to the lesson. One option is to assign students a certain insect or amphibian to write about for the activity. If possible, you may also want to raise an amphibian or insect in the class from egg to adulthood. Another option is to take students outside to observe these different creatures at different stages of their metamorphosis. One more option is for students to create a play with different roles for each stage. You could also distribute blank outlines of the stages and give them to students to label and describe.

Teacher Notes

The Teacher Notes page provides an extra paragraph of information or guidance. It explains how students may understand the general concept of change but not necessarily how some animals mature in different ways. This section recommends that you use one or more videos that demonstrate the stages of metamorphosis. Use the blank lines to write any additional ideas or notes you may have as you prepare the lesson for your students.



The Metamorphosis lesson plan includes four pages of content. The lesson beings by explaining that all life has a beginning and an end. In between, every living thing goes through a number of changes. The lesson describes how humans start out as a single cell that then multiplies and grows. After they are born, they grow little by little into toddlers and then teenagers and eventually adults. Students will understand this process as a life cycle.

Different animals and living things have different life cycles. This lesson focuses on the living things that go through radical changes before they become adults—insects and amphibians. Unlike humans and other animals, these creatures do not look like a smaller version of the adult when they are born. Instead, they go through three or four distinct stages. This process is metamorphosis, which means “change of form.” For instance, frogs and butterflies do not look like frogs and butterflies at birth. Students will discover that there are two types of metamorphosis: complete and incomplete. Complete consists of four stages and incomplete consists of three stages. Incomplete is sometimes called gradual or simple.


Students will next learn that in the United States alone, there are around 91,000 different species of insects. In the world overall, there are over 10 quintillion individual insects alive. Basically, there are about 200 million insects for every one human! These bugs are everywhere, and about 90% of them undergo complete metamorphosis. These include butterflies, moths, bees, and flies. The four stages are egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

During the egg stage, an embryo within the egg begins to develop. The female insect is the one who lays the eggs. Next is the larva stage during which the egg hatches. This is also called the “young” stage. The larva looks similar to a worm or caterpillar. It eats and grows and molts its skin several times. This outer layer is the exoskeleton. The pupa stage follows afterward. During this stage, the insect is inactive and resting. It neither eats nor moves as body changes take place. It develops new organs, muscles, and other parts. This stage can last from a few days to several months depending on the species. Finally, the adult stage is when molting stops and the insect has reached adult size. Parts include wings, legs, and antennae.

Some insects undergo incomplete metamorphosis, the stages of which are egg, nymph, and adult. This is true for dragonflies and grasshoppers. The egg stage is basically the same as in complete. Similar to the larva stage in complete, the nymph stage is the young stage during which most of the feeding and growing occurs. Insects at this stage eat the same foods as the adult forms and look like miniature versions of the adults, but they have no wings. After molting four to eight times (the instar period), they grow bigger and bigger until they arrive at adulthood and get their wings.


Students will then learn about amphibians and their life cycle. Frogs, toads, and newts go through a three-stage life cycle—egg, larva, and adult. These animals lay their eggs in water. For frogs, the female deposits eggs in a pond or other wet environment. Next, the eggs hatch in larvae (tiny tadpoles) with gills and long tails. They swim like fish at this point. Students will learn that changes begin to happen at this stage, and the animals develop legs and lungs. The tails shrink and the mouth widens. Finally, at the adult stage, they hop out of the water and begin living on land.

Students will then discover that each stage of metamorphosis includes certain adaptations that help the species survive. Without these stages and adaptations, the species would die. The lesson then summarizes the information that students learned.

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Metamorphosis: the process of transformation from immaturity to an adult in two or more stages
  • Complete: the 4-stage process of metamorphosis
  • Incomplete: the 3-stage process of metamorphosis
  • Embryo: the stage in which the embryo inside of an egg begins to develop
  • Larva: the stage in which the egg hatches and the larva begins to eat, grow, and molt
  • Exoskeleton: the outer layer of the larva that sheds during molting
  • Nymph: the young stage of incomplete metamorphosis in which most of the feeding and growing happens


The Metamorphosis lesson plan contains three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each worksheet will help reinforce students’ grasp of the material and hopefully solidify their comprehension. Refer to the classroom procedure page to know when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will choose an insect or amphibian that goes through 3- or 4-stage metamorphosis. They will write a story about their chosen creature as if they are that creature at the beginning stage of life in an egg. They will write about their experiences as they develop through the different stages. The story must be creative and include terms that relate to the stages of the change process. It can be in either first- or third-person point of view. They can first create a rough draft and exchange it with another student for review. After they complete the final draft, students will attach it to a piece of construction paper and add pictures or drawings. Use the rubric to grade students’ work.


The practice worksheet contains two sections. The first section requires students to look at 10 definitions. Using the terms in the word bank, students will match the definition to the correct term. For the second section, they will fill in the blank for 10 more statements using the words in that word bank.


The homework assignment also contains several sections. The first section requires students to tell whether 10 statements are true (T) or false (F). Next, they will name the stages of metamorphosis in order for five different organisms. Finally, they will answer five questions using what they learned during the lesson.

Worksheet Answer Keys

Both the practice and homework worksheets contain answer keys for your use. The practice worksheet answer key provides the answers in red. There should be no variation on this worksheet. Similarly, the homework answer key provides the answers in red. It is possible that the students’ answers to the five questions at the bottom will vary slightly, but they should match the given answers on this page. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.


Take a look at this other lesson plan that relates to metamorphosis:

  • Amphibians—Students will learn more about different amphibian species in the world. The lesson contains additional ideas that you might find useful for this lesson on metamorphosis. It is for students in 3rd grade and 4th grade.
  • Butterflies—This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade. While it is for the lower elementary grade levels, it may contain some information you can use or ideas for additional activities.

Additional information


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade



State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Christine M.


I will be using it next week, so let's see how it goes!

Maile H.

Great lesson

The kids loved it and was easy for them to be understand