Butterflies and Moths Sort – Free Insect Printable for Preschool

Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to explore the wonderful world of insects with your preschool and kindergarten students. With our collection of posters and picture cards featuring butterflies and moths, you can engage your students in fun and educational hands-on activities that will bring the beauty of these insects to life in your classroom.

Our learning printables are designed with clear, true-to-life images that will captivate young minds and ignite their curiosity about the natural world. By incorporating these resources into your curriculum, you can create engaging lessons that will help your students develop a deeper understanding of these fascinating creatures.

Whether you are a Montessori teacher looking to enhance your insect exploration unit or an early childhood educator looking for new ways to engage your students, our butterfly and moth printables are sure to come in handy. From matching games to sensory activities, these resources offer a wide range of opportunities for hands-on learning that will keep your students excited and engaged.

Benefits of sorting and matching activities in early childhood

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up

Sorting and matching activities are essential components of early childhood education that help children develop important skills that are crucial for their academic success and overall development. These activities, such as sorting objects by size, color, shape, or type, and matching pictures or cards, not only provide children with a fun and engaging way to learn but also offer numerous benefits for their cognitive, social, and emotional development.

One of the primary benefits of sorting and matching activities is the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By categorizing and organizing objects based on specific attributes, children learn to analyze information, make comparisons, and draw conclusions. This process helps them develop logical reasoning and decision-making skills, which are essential for academic success later in life.

Additionally, sorting and matching activities help children enhance their visual discrimination skills, as they learn to recognize and differentiate between similar objects based on subtle differences. This skill is crucial for reading and mathematics, as it helps children distinguish between letters, numbers, and shapes, and improves their ability to recognize patterns and sequences.

Sorting and matching activities are a valuable tool for educators to support children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development in the early childhood classroom. By incorporating these activities into their lesson plans, teachers can provide children with the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences that promote critical thinking, visual discrimination, and social skills, setting a strong foundation for their future academic success.

About butterflies and moths

Butterflies and moths are two beautiful creatures that can often be seen fluttering around in gardens and meadows. Butterflies and moths are both insects that belong to the same order called Lepidoptera, which means scaly wings. While they may look similar at first glance, there are some key differences between the two that make them unique in their own ways.

Butterflies and moths are both insects because they have six legs, three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), and two antennae. They also have wings that are covered in scales, which give them their beautiful and colorful patterns.


  • Life cycle: Both butterflies and moths go through a four-stage lifecycle known as complete metamorphosis. This includes the egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis or cocoon), and adult stages.
  • Wings: Both butterflies and moths have two pairs of wings covered in scales that give them their colorful and intricate patterns. These scales can rub off easily when touched.
  • Antennae: Both creatures have antennae that they use for sensing their environment and finding food.
  • Proboscis: Both butterflies and moths have a long, tube-like tongue called a proboscis that they use for feeding on nectar from flowers.

Butterflies and moths play an important role in our ecosystems as pollinators, helping plants reproduce by carrying pollen from one flower to another. They also serve as a food source for other animals, such as birds and bats.


  • Activity: Butterflies are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, while moths are nocturnal and are active at night. This is why you will often see butterflies fluttering around in the daytime and moths flying around at night.
  • Appearance: Butterflies are generally more colorful and have brighter patterns on their wings, while moths tend to be more muted in color and have less intricate patterns. However, there are exceptions to this rule, as some moths can be just as vibrant as butterflies.
  • Antennae: The antennae of butterflies are typically thin with a knobbed end, while the antennae of moths can vary in shape and size. Some moths have feathery antennae, while others have straight or hooked antennae.
  • Resting Position: When resting, butterflies usually hold their wings closed upright over their backs, while moths tend to hold their wings open flat or roof-like over their bodies.
  • Habitat: Butterflies are often found in open fields, meadows, and gardens, while moths can be found in a wider range of habitats, including forests, deserts, and urban areas.
  • Cocoon vs. Chrysalis: When going through the pupa stage, butterflies form a hard, smooth chrysalis, while moths spin a silk cocoon around themselves. This is why butterflies emerge from a chrysalis, while moths emerge from a cocoon.
  • Behavior: Butterflies are known for their delicate flying patterns and graceful movements, while moths often have a more erratic flight pattern.
  • Size: Moths tend to be larger and bulkier than butterflies, although there are exceptions to this rule as well.

While butterflies and moths may share some similarities in terms of their life cycle and physical characteristics, there are also several key differences that set them apart. By highlighting these differences in a simple and easy-to-understand way, preschool children can learn to appreciate the unique qualities of both creatures and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world around them.

butterflies and Moths Free printable

Matching game: Use the picture cards of butterflies and moths to create a matching game for preschoolers. Have them identify and match the butterfly or moth to its corresponding picture card.

Sorting activity: Have students sort the picture cards by categorizing them into butterflies and moths. This can help reinforce their understanding of the differences between the two insects.

An artist's workspace with watercolor paints, brushes, a glass of water, and an open book with illustrations of butterflies and plants.

Art project: Have students use the printable posters as inspiration for an art project. They can create their own butterfly or moth using various art materials such as construction paper, pom poms, and googly eyes.

Nature study: Take your students on a nature walk and have them observe butterflies and moths in their natural habitat.

Sensory bin: Create a sensory bin filled with items related to butterflies and moths, such as silk flowers, plastic butterflies, and moth life cycle figures. Encourage students to play and explore the bin while learning about these insects.

Science exploration: Use the printable posters to introduce students to the life cycle of butterflies and moths. Discuss the stages of metamorphosis and have students create their own butterfly life cycle diagrams.

Younger children can be encouraged to match colored pictures to the black and white version and sort the insects into two categories. Prepare glue-and-paste activities. Cut insect cards, laminate, attach the hook, and loop dots to add an extra challenge for little fingers. Older children might be inspired to research and create their own book of moths and butterflies that dwell in your area, explore how butterflies and moths are different and the characteristics that are common for both groups of insects, glue cutouts, or draw and label the insects.

Here is what’s included:

  • 2 x moths and butterflies – poster
  • 1 x sorting mat – background
  • 1 x page with images of butterflies and moths for matching

I love this idea @raisingmaeve had. Jess enlarged the background and used adhesive to create this wonderful little activity for her child.
If you would like to enlarge the background, here is how you can do it. Hit Print. Make sure in your Advanced Settings ‘Print As Image’ has been deselected. Then hit ‘Poster’ and set your ‘Tile Scale’ according to how large you would like your poster to be. If you set it at 100%, it will print on two sheets. Trim sheets as needed and connect your poster pieces using scotch tape.

butterflies and moths sort

learning resources you might find helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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