Captain Ahab's Weird Wide World: Caterpillar Soup: How to Make a Butterfly

article by Karen Wasson , photo by Alamy

Learning intention: 

I am learning to plan and deliver short presentations, providing some key details in a logical sequence so that I can learn to share my ideas.  

Success criteria: 

  • I can reflect on how challenging misconceptions and providing surprising information engages readers.  
  • I can research surprising facts about an animal.  
  • I can include information gathered through research in a presentation on my chosen animal.  


Read Captain Ahab’s Weird Wide World: Caterpillar Soup: How to Make a Butterfly. Identify the text type (informative) and discuss how students can be sure the information included is factual (they can use other sources to check the facts).   

Discuss information included in the story that students found surprising. Jot these ideas on the board. Suggested answers include:  

  • Most butterflies don’t actually make cocoons.  
  • The juices from inside the caterpillar’s stomach begin to digest the caterpillar once it’s inside the chrysalis.  
  • The juices turn the caterpillar into a kind of soup.  
  • When a butterfly first hatches from the chrysalis it is unable to fly as its wings are too wet.  

Discuss the impact on readers of including surprising information/little-known facts. Most likely students will conclude that this increases readers’ enjoyment of texts and that it engages readers in the article.  

Inform students that they will be researching surprising facts about other animals to include in their own informative presentation.  

Inform students that they will need to decide on the elements to include in their presentation. Refer back to the article Captain Ahab’s Weird Wide World: Caterpillar Soup: How to Make a Butterfly. Discuss the types of information included in the introduction and under each subheading. Ensure students conclude the following:  

  • Introduction: introduces the topic of how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. 
  • Excuse me while I change: challenges common misconceptions about cocoons and chrysalises. 
  • Caterpillar soup: outlines what the caterpillar does once they are inside the chrysalis. 
  • Let me out of here: describes how the butterfly exits the chrysalis and what it does once it exits. 

Discuss how this structure might be transferred to a different topic. Ensure students conclude that their informative presentation should include the following:  

  • an introduction informing the audience of the topic 
  • a section challenging common misconceptions about the animal  
  • factual information specific to their chosen animal 


Inform students that for now they will be working on the first two elements only, the introduction and a section challenging misconceptions or outlining the creature’s special feature.  

Provide students with access to the following webpages, either digitally or printed.  



  • Students can also select one of the animals from the National Geographic Kids section Animals 

View the first article with the students. Select one of the facts from the article, for example:  

The regal horned lizard has a gross way of repelling attackers. They squirt blood out of their eyes! 

Collaboratively compose an introductory paragraph and a section challenging a common misconception or outlining a special feature about the regal horned lizard. A sample response is provided below:  

The regal horned lizard is one special reptile. It has an unusual feature which it uses to keep itself safe in even the most threatening of situations.  

Most people think of lizards as small defenseless creatures that are left scrambling for safety whenever a predator approaches. The regal horned lizard has a surprising way of scaring off creatures that may try to attack it. Instead of hiding under a rock, it shoots blood… out of its eye. Yep, you heard that right. This tiny reptile can shoot blood from their eyes.  

With the class use a program such as PowerPoint to create a brief presentation featuring the two paragraphs composed collaboratively. Add visual elements such as photos or videos.  

Place students in small groups. Instruct them to select a special fact about an animal from the articles above. Tell them that they will be using the special fact as the basis for their presentations. Tell students to compose two paragraphs, an introductory paragraph on what they already know about the animal and a section challenging a common misconception or outlining the special feature they have discovered through research. Remind students that they are not expected to undertake extensive research, merely they are required to include the special fact with their own ideas to form a simple presentation. Instruct students to create a presentation using PowerPoint to exhibit the paragraphs they construct. Tell students they’ll need to add visual elements and that they can use internet search engines to obtain images.  

Allow time for students to work on their presentations before instructing them to take turns sharing their presentations with another group.