Beautiful Painted Butterflies

Beautiful Painted Butterflies

I always do this project with my Kindergarteners every spring to get them in the mood for summer!

This project can be easily adapted for older kids, as well, just have them do more of the work!


Even though I teach this project in the classroom, it is still so easy that it can be done at home or in a homeschool environment.  My students love every part of this project.  We talk about the “magic” that happens when we paint with the watercolor and they absolutely love dot painters.  This would be a great spring time project for you to do as we near the end of this school year, or if you have time in the summer to do it with your own children.

I start out this project by preparing the paper for my students.  I use a 12″ x 18″ heavy drawing paper for the upper wings (if you have watercolor paper – even better), 9″ x 12″ heavy drawing paper or watercolor paper for the lower wings and 9″ x 12″ colored construction paper for the body.  I drew all of the parts of the butterfly on heavy tagboard and use this to trace all of the parts for my kindergarteners.  They are capable of tracing, but I prefer to do it because I use permanent black marker so they can see where to cut when done painting.  A lot of them like to use a lot of paint and black paint is a favorite so traced pencil line would not be easily seen for them.  It maybe takes me 45 minutes to trace all of the parts for about 45 students, so not too long.  If you are just doing this for one child – don’t bother making the templates, just draw right on the paper with pencil and then outline with permanent marker.

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I have 30 minute class blocks with kindergarteners, so we do all of this project in steps.

On day one – we paint the upper wings.  I teach them about using a wet on wet technique and how before we only used wet on dry technique.  We begin by wetting the paper where the butterfly is with a big brush and water.  We then start to add wet watercolor paint to the paper.  We don’t use a painting brushstroke rather we just dab the paint on with the brush and since the paper is wet…”magic” happens.  The paint start to move and when you add more colors then begin to move and mix together.  I usually get a big “WOW” when I demonstrate this!

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We let this dry until next class, I always make sure to dry them flat and I am the one that moves them around the room…otherwise spilling will definitely happen!

I always press the paintings under something heavy after they dry because the paper will be crinkled because of all the water that was used.

Here are some that are already dry

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On Day two – we use the dot painters for the lower wings and the body.  Rules in class for these are: no pounding, I should not hear you painting and no pulling the dot painters across the page, it will pull off the sponge tip.  You can either buy dot painter, use bingo dabbers or there are empty ones you can buy to fill yourself.

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We let these dry on the drying rack for next class.

On day three – we cut and assemble.  We start the class by cutting all three of the parts of the butterfly.  Then we use markers to add faces and a few details to the body of our butterfly.   We put a line of glue on the top of the lower wings and set the upper wings on top, then a line down the middle of the wings and put the body piece on top.  Very simple, but remember kindergarteners are messy with glue!!

painted butterfly project for elementary

You can easily adapt this for older children.  You can have them do their own tracing or even their own drawing of all the parts of the butterfly.

I hope you are able to use this project in your classroom or home!

I would love to hear your comments!