Butterflies are beautiful creatures, and making butterfly crafts can help you capture some of the fun spirit of these insects. Does anything say summer more than learning about and crafting with butterflies?
The Butterfly's Life Cycle
Depending on the age of your child, your butterfly crafting experience should include a discussion of the life cycle of a butterfly. There are all sorts of websites that include information on how butterflies are hatched and eventually grow up into the beautiful butterflies we see in the flower garden.
If you want to stick with the basics, here's the least you need to know:
- Egg stage: After butterflies mate, the female lays her eggs. Butterflies are particular about where they lag there eggs and some species will only lay eggs on a particular species of host plant. Eggs usually hatch into larva in about 10 days
- Larva stage: The larva, or caterpillar, is a powerful eating machine (that's why mom lays her eggs on a leaf). They eat a lot and grow very quickly, usually shedding their skin four times before searching out a place to pupate.
- Pupa stage: When the larva pupates, it hangs from a leaf and sheds its outer skin, forming the chrysalis. Inside this papery form the butterfly is maturing, getting ready to break free. This can take as little as two weeks or as long as several months, since butterflies can hibernate in their chrysalis.
Knowing a little bit about butterflies makes crafting them a whole lot more fun.
Caterpillar Butterfly Crafts
Butterflies give us two good opportunities for crafting: the caterpillar and the butterfly. A simple caterpillar craft involves taking rings of construction paper and joining them together to make a caterpillar. Use a paper plate to make a head.
You can also make a caterpillar out of the individual cups of an egg carton. Decorate each cup, turn them upside down, and glue them to a sheet of paper or a piece of cardboard. Make the first cup into a head by adding googly eyes and pipe-cleaner antennae.
A caterpillar room decoration can be made by cutting large circles out of construction paper and pasting them to the wall. Placed vertically instead of horizontally, this could make a cute grow chart for your little one.
There are a hundred different ways you can craft a butterfly. It's basically just a piece of paper, sometimes cut so that there is a top wing and a bottom wing on each side, with a stick or something in the middle to give it stability.
Choose construction paper, card stock, coffee filters, paper plates or wrapping paper for the paper part and a dowel, pencil, craft stick or drinking straw for the center. Or just make the whole thing out of paper.
Decorate the butterfly using crayons, markers, stickers, watercolor paints or whatever you like. Add pipe cleaners for the antennae if you like.
Decoupage tissue paper onto a butterfly shape made of heavier card stock to make a stained-glass effect (you can also do this with waxed paper sprayed down with spray starch-then you'll be able to see through it, too.)
The butterfly shape is a nice one for making a greeting card. Just cut a butterfly out of card stock or heavy construction paper. Use a piece of black paper to make the center body part of the butterfly and fold the paper in half on that center line, using a folding tool if desired.
Allow your child to decorate the butterfly so both the inside and the outside of the card look nice. Another way to do this would be to take a purchased blank card (with the fold at the top) and draw a butterfly on the card, so that the tops of the wings are at the edge of the fold. Cut the butterfly out, making sure that you cut through both layers evenly. Then decorate as before.
You can also paint butterflies, draw butterflies, make butterfly-shaped cookies, find butterfly-shaped beads or charms and bead with butterflies, bake butterfly-shaped cookies and more. For older kids, butterfly motifs are popular in cross stitching and latch-rug kits.
A Butterfly House
Maybe the best of all the butterfly crafts is a butterfly house. Butterfly houses look a lot like birdhouses except they have a series of small slits on the outside so the butterflies can get in and out.
This is a good craft for older kids to do with their parents. if you have a child who loves to build things, or a child who loves wildlife, you'll want to build a butterfly house and see if you can attract live butterflies to your yard.
To attract butterflies to your butterfly house, you need to have plants that are full of nectar. Flowers should also make large blooms that give the butterfly a place to rest. Here's a quick rundown of some of the best plants you can have for attracting butterflies (yes, gardening is a craft, too!):
- bee balm
- butterfly bush
Once you start inviting butterflies into the garden, stop using insecticides. Locate your butterfly garden in a sunny spot, and provide a shallow water source and a couple of flat rocks for basking, and you'll be sure to have new inspiration for butterfly crafts in your own backyard.