Butterfly Art

The colors and patterns of butterfly wings are not only beautiful to behold, but they also serve as a communication tool for butterflies. Some butterflies have colors that help them camouflage, some have bright colors to warn other animals that they are poisonous and some have patterns designed to confuse or scare away predators. In this activity, kids take inspiration from the colors, shapes and patterns of butterflies as they explore different art-making techniques, learn about symmetry and create their own butterfly puppet.

The Guide

Learn about butterflies: Watch a video about Monarch butterflies from National Geographic Kids. You can use this site to search for butterflies and moths native to your area. As you look at photos of different butterfly species, talk about the colors, shapes and patterns that you see. Notice together how the two sides of the butterflies look the same as a way to introduce the concept of symmetry.

Invite: Show your child the butterfly printable and invite them to use art materials to create their own butterfly. Wonder what kind of colors, shapes and patterns your child might like to add to their butterfly.

Offer paint, a paintbrush and a few nature treasures and welcome your child to create a butterfly. Kids can take inspiration from a photo or a butterfly they have seen in your area, or kids can invent a butterfly of their own creation.

Support art-making techniques: Invite kids to try different techniques to make their shapes and patterns. Kids can use paintbrushes to spread paint or to dab and make dots. Nature treasures can be dipped in paint and used as stamps to make shapes and patterns.

Fold the butterfly: Support kids in folding the print-out in half along the midline of the butterfly’s body and press the two halves together with their hands. Open up the paper and notice what happened. Did colors mix together to make new colors? Are the two sides of the butterfly the same or different? Welcome kids to repeat the process of layering paint, folding and pressing as many times as they would like.

Make a puppet: When play is wrapping up, set the butterfly art aside to dry. Later, support your child in cutting out the butterfly and attaching it to a stick with tape to make their own butterfly puppet!

Extend: Introduce the second page of the print-out (moth) and talk about the differences your child sees between the two creatures. Invite your child to add color and pattern and/or repeat the above process to make a moth puppet.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Exploring a variety of art-making techniques (stamping, color mixing, blending, layering) gives kids a toolbox that supports their creativity and their ability to communicate a variety of feelings and ideas through art. As kids explore the symmetry of butterfly wings, they will begin to notice other patterns in the natural world, too.

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