Butterfly Art Activities for Children

Getting Started: Butterfly art projects are a wonderful way to learn about the concept of symmetry. This is a nice art project to do in the springtime. I like to read the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle to my students. At the end of the book, there is a beautiful picture when the caterpillar transforms in its cocoon into a butterfly. I also show students pictures from the internet and a butterfly calendar that I have.

Art Technique: Painting with acrylics

Grades: Elementary


About this project: A good reference book for art teachers and art therapist for this art activity is: Children And Painting by Cathy Weisman Topal.

Materials needed:

  • Small canvas
  • White paper the size of the canvas
  • scissors
  • Acrylic paints
  • Plastic plates
  • Paper towels
  • Newspapers
  • Paint brushes of different sizes
  • Plastic containers for water
  • Pencils, erasers and sharpeners
  • Color wheel

Part 1

  1. Lay newspaper on the work space.
  2. Have students write their name on the back of the canvas.
  3. Fold the paper in half. Demonstrate making half the butterfly and cut out.
  4. Trace the butterfly onto the canvas.
  5. Have students take a close look at butterfly pictures, noting the various spotting and lines.
  6. Demonstrate using a pencil adding a line to one side of the butterfly, and the same line to the other side of the butterfly. Add more lines and other spots in the same way.
Part 2

1. When the composition is complete, review the color wheel with the students.

2. Explain to students to paint the background color of the painting first, let it dry for 10 minutes, and then add the lines and dots.

3. Demonstrate cleaning the brush between colors.

4. Paint!

5. When complete, I have students use the extra paint to paint whatever they want on paper. I always have precut paper the size of greeting cards if they would like to design one or two of those.

Art Therapy Ideas: Ask your young clients to paint a second picture on paper about where the butterfly would like to fly. Would it like to fly alone or in a group?

Tips for elementary art teachers:
Hang up these wonderful butterflies all around the classroom. You can have the students sit in a quietly in a circle, find calm music for the students to listen to, and continue with a creative writing project about the “Flight of the Butterfly”.