Saturday, September 1, 2012

Clay and Paper Butterflies

Do you know some students who are studying butterflies? This is a great project for children in Kindergarten and elementary school. You can work in so many great concepts with this project: parts of an insect, symmetry, pattern, and more.

I started by having my students cut out the wings and design them and then I walked them through the making of the butterfly body. We finished up by adding the details such as antennae and legs. I really enjoyed this project because it taught science and art concepts, but it also because it allowed the students some self expression; a win/win in my book!

Clay Butterfly With Paper Wings

Supplies Needed:

  • One 6" x 9" piece of construction paper for the wings (light color)
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Scissors
  • Assorted markers
  • Model Magic by Crayola (about the size of a chicken egg), whatever color you want
  • 3 pipe cleaners (chenille stems), whatever color you want


1. Fold the construction paper in half the short way (hamburger or taco fold).

2. Arrange the construction paper so the fold is on the left. Draw a capital letter "B" on the paper extending it so the top and bottom of the "B" touch the top and bottom of the paper.

3. Cut out the "B" shape, but don't cut the middle line (in between the upper and bottom bumps). Write your name on the paper and open it up so your name is face down. These are your butterfly wings.

4. Decorate the wings with whatever designs you would like: big dots, little dots, lines, etc. I showed a couple of butterfly books to the children before they started drawing. I asked them to make their designs symmetrical, or the same on both wings.

5. I then gave each child a ball of Model Magic the size of a chicken egg. I had them pull off a piece and roll it into a 3/4-1" ball. This is the butterfly's head. Place this ball of dough at the top of your butterfly's wings and press down slightly.

6. Divide the remainder of the dough in half (two equal parts). Form he first into a ball. This is the thorax for your butterfly. Place this ball of dough below your butterfly's head on the wings and press down slightly.

7. Roll the remainder of the dough into a hot dog shape about 3" long or so. This is the abdomen of your butterfly. Place this ball of dough below your butterfly's thorax on the wings and press down slightly.

8. Use scissors to cut each pipe cleaner into three equal sections. Poke 2 pipe cleaner pieces into the butterfly's head as his antennae. Wrap another pipe cleaner piece into a coil and poke it into the head for the butterfly's proboscis.

9. Poke the remaining 6 pipe cleaner pieces into the butterfly's thorax (3 on one side, 3 on the other). These are the butterfly's legs.

You're done! Enjoy your colorful butterfly!


  1. I've just completed an insect painting, focusing on the 3 body parts as you have... some lovely art work resulted, but mixed success on convincing them that legs don't grow out of the abdomen!! Maybe your 3D, build the body piece-by-piece would have been more effective!

  2. Yes, I'm hoping that the 3D aspect of the craft and actually poking the legs into the thorax part cemented the idea in their brains about the structure of an insect. I reinforced the idea by showing them a drawing of an insect with the parts labeled and color-coded and singing a goofy song about the parts of an insect. Those poor children didn't stand a chance! :-)


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