A Crayon Resist Butterfly Art Project

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A Watercolor Resist Butterfly Art Project for Kids

This post contains affiliate links.We are big into butterflies right now. Maia runs around the yard with her butterfly net trying to catch them, and bemoaning the fact that she can’t (or, at least, hasn’t yet).

Our plan is to raise our own this year in one of these butterfly houses. Have any of you tried this? You send away for for the caterpillars, feed them, then watch them grow and form chrysalises and finally emerge as butterflies. We are so excited! And I like this way better than the roly polies (otherwise known as pill bugs or armadillidiidae as we found out when we looked them and their food supply up) that Maia’s been keeping in a jar in her room.

Update :: We’ve been using a butterfly house ever since and LOVE it! You can read about our experience with it here.

For a recent art project, Maia and I created a butterfly mobile that now flutters in the cross-breeze of our dining room windows. We used watercolors over a white crayon-resist design for the wings with clothespins for the bodies. Very easy!

Here’s the short version of the instructions ::

Crayon Resist Butterfly Art Project



1. Cut the watercolor paper into butterfly shapes.

Watercolor Resist Butterfly Art Project

2. Draw designs on the wings of your butterfly, using the white oil pastels.

Watercolor Resist Butterfly Art Project

3. Paint over the entire butterfly with the watercolor paints.

4. Slip an old fashioned wooden clothespin over the center and glue in place (a hot glue gun works well) for the butterfly body.

Watercolor Resist Butterflies Mobile

5. For the mobile, tie thread around the body or head of the butterfly and attach the other end to a stick, an embroidery hoop, or just to the ceiling (as we did).

You can see the full tutorial in my arts column for the May issue of WNC Parent. The online version is here. (Type 34 in the page number search module at the top of the screen, then click on the page itself to view it larger.)

Butterfly Cookies

In addition to the crayon-resist butterflies, I have instructions for painting cookies and talk a bit about process vs product. You can take a look here.

More Butterfly Art Projects for Kids

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Watercolor Resist Butterflies Mobile

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  1. says

    Great idea! We might just have to try those butterfly paintings. We are raising butterflies right now. It’s pretty easy, and really is fascinating. We had an unfortunate incident the first day, and the container got dropped and one died, but otherwise, the others all grew like crazy and turned into chrysalids just like they were supposed to. Today we put them in their little butterfly house. I’ll try to put some photos up on my blog this weekend if you want to see what it looks like. Really, it’s more fun than I thought it would be.

  2. says

    i really enjoyed your article that you linked to. as an art therapist myself, i echo your sentiments exactly. i wrote a bit about ways to talk with kids about the art they create on my blog here: http://paintcutpaste.com/lets-talk-about-art/
    i love your blog and follow it daily on my rss, and i always look forward to your posts! thank you!

  3. Barbara Zaborowski says

    We’ve raised butterflies at preschool. If you don’t already have a commercial butterfly house, you can easily make one any size you like. It just needs two embroidery hoops (any size) and a piece of netting to make a tube around the two hoops. Hot glue the netting to the top and bottom hoop with a lot of overlap. (The overlap becomes the “door.” You reach in through the overlap.) Then hot glue some paper to each of the hoops to make a floor and a ceiling.
    Best of luck with the butterflies. The moment they hatch is only matched by the moment they’re released to fly away.

  4. Barbara Zaborowski says

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that it needs some ribbon to hang it up.

  5. says

    ooohhhh… those butterflies might just have to be our next doodlebugs project!! they’re awesome! snapped up a bag of that type of clothespins from a thrift store some time ago, and have been waiting for just the right project. ;-) made scones a couple of days ago, too… what a yummy breakfast for us all! thanks for all the great ideas…. am love, love, LOVING your blog!

  6. says

    Oh, what a great idea! Thanks, Barbara! We already purchased ours, but hopefully others see your instructions and give it a try. Do you just use caterpillars you find outside or do you still send away for the painted ladies or whatever?

  7. Barbara Zaborowski says

    Because we live in the desert we’ve always sent away for ours, but I’m thinking of planting some passion vine to see if we can attract our own.

  8. says

    The butterflies look so lovely!
    We will have to try to the white paint resist and make some.
    The cookies turned out neat as well.
    Since you mentioned that Maia is so into butterflies at the moment, thought I would let you know that I did a post a while back about butterflies with some cool butterfly links:
    Thanks for sharing your ideas! I will link your butterfly post to mine when we do the butterfly migration project again in the fall, as the Monarch butterflies will again leave us here in Florida and return to Mexico.

  9. Nancy says

    My son’s grade 2 class did this for their science unit on metamorphosis. They ordered painted lady butterflies because they needed so many, but friends of ours have just used caterpillars that they have found outside.
    After the butterflies hatched, they held a butterfly picnic which parents were invited to. The kids had a butterfly parade where they wore butterfly wings that they had made from painted pizza boxes cut into wing shapes and head band antenaes made with pipe cleaners. They recited poems and sang songs about butterflies, released the butterflies and then had a picnic. The kids also learned about the migration of the Monarch butterfly which fly from Canada to an area in central Mexico. It was one of the most memorable and charming things my kids have done at school.
    Some of our local provincial parks that have camping have held butterfly migration events in the fall. They talk about the life cycle of the butterfly and have demonstrations on how they tag and monitor them for migration (they put little numbered stickers on their wings) and then let the kids release them. The other memorable thing was learning a song to the tune of “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” but used the butterfly body parts. “Head and thorax, abdomen, abdomen, abdomen; head and thorax, abdomen, six legs and exoskeleton!” You flutter your arms like wings when you get to the exoskeleton part. Adorable! I apologize for the long comment. Have fun with the butterflies!

  10. natalie says

    nice article! i’ll have to check out kohl’s books. my cousin did the send off for the butterflies. they turned out beautiful!

  11. amy says

    We raised butterflies last year and released them. It was really fun and worth the cost of buying them and having them shipped. My daughter put them on top of her dollhouse at the foot of her bed and pretty much slept with them till she released them!

  12. says

    Beautiful butterflies! Also like the watercolor recipe. I’ll have to try that with my boys. One of my boys had a butterfly garden in their class this year. He LOVED it. He had a story just about every single day about it! Hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day! Have a great week!

  13. says

    The butterflies are beautiful – thanks for sharing them! The watercolor paint is nice and bright and shows up the white crayon so well. Another idea for using watercolor paints or dye is to dribble acrylic paint out of a squeegee bottle into random ‘scribble’ shapes on your paper, it takes a while to dry but when it does it stays raised and creates lots of areas that are ‘barriers’ on the paper. Paint your watercolor paint or dyes in these areas and they will not bleed or mix with the colors on the other side of the paint. The result is very colorful and textured – but also the process of dribbling and then seeing the dried paint and then painting are lots of fun.

  14. says

    we got a bug house last year and it was great fun. my daughter is an absolute bug nut, so we also have a few tanks filled with bugs. she collected about 20 pill bugs (we call them potato bugs!) and now there are about 300. watch out! they breed like crazy! my son has a tank in which he put about 5 slugs, and now there are probably a hundred. sometimes they ESCAPE and of course i step on them barefoot. mmmm.
    thanks for this idea of the butterfly mobile. we are definitely going to do this with the crayon resist. i’m recovering from surgery and am in vital need of sit-down and rest art projects since i can’t run around like usual. i’ll be scouring your blog for more :)

  15. says

    oh i’m sorry i meant that we got a butterfly house, where you order the caterpillars and watch their process. i think all of ours hatched and we got to watch it all.

  16. [email protected] says

    I like this idea. I have all boys, so I am thinking they could use the same idea using bug shapes. :)