Posts Tagged ‘butterfly’

witnessing a butterfly birthday

earth day is coming up this weekend, and what better way to celebrate than to experience some of mother nature’s magic?! we’ve just witness a slice of this in our house — following a butterfly from the larva stage through to the butterfly stage before our widened eyes…

N has always been interested in the stages of a butterfly, from her favorite book as a 1 year old (the very hungry caterpillar, of course) to the awesome butterfly storybox she created last spring! (have you seen this thing?) N received this groovy butterfly kit from insect lore for her birthday, and while i’m not getting paid at all for this review, i’d recommend it to anyone. (great birthday gift!)

we waited until temperatures were seasonably warm, and sent away for butterfly larvae in the mail. when the container arrived, there were six larvae inside, which looked like super-small caterpillars. see:

about five days later, the caterpillars had grown much larger…

four days after that, the caterpillars had munched their way to their maximum size. (that tan stuff in the jar with them is their food.)

the had entered chrysalis stage only two days after that. it’s hard to see here, but five of them attached to the lid of the jar (as expected) but the sixth formed its cocoon on the bottom of the jar. we weren’t sure if that dude would make it, and ultimately and sadly, he did not.

now it was time to transfer the chrysalids to their new netted habitat provided in the kit. the instructions said to pin the paper to which they’d attached to the net a few inches above the bottom. my husband (the less skeeved-out one) did the deed with the little one lending support.

in their new home!

we watched and watched. and waited and waited.

and on the eighth day, our first painted lady butterfly pushed her way out, unfurled her wet wings, and was a beautiful butterfly!

over the next four days, all five butterflies were born! each day, we read one of N’s favorite books, butterfly birthday, and sang happy birthday to the butterflies as they came into the world in their new form. we put carnations drizzled with sugar water and tangerine slices in their habitat, which N prepared.

we hung out with them until the youngest butterfly was one day old.

on easter sunday, we brought the habitat into our backyard and unzipped it… one by one, we watched each butterfly take flight! it was so exciting for N …and for me and my husband, too!


what an a beautifully educational and magical spring activity to do with children! i think we might have to get the ladybug kit next…

how are you celebrating earth day on sunday?



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cardboard box challenge: butterfly storybox

we are honored to partake in tinkerlab’s one year anniversary cardboard box challenge, alongside so many amazing bloggers! when presented with this challenge, i wondered how we could incorporate two things that N is naturally curious about exploring right now: illustrating (like a fiend!) and butterflies. i like to go with the flow…


with mother’s day coming up, my own uber-creative mom is on my mind a lot… and this blog is purely an homage to her. i decided to attempt to replicate a “visual aid” my mom created with me for science class when i was in about third grade. a perfect marriage of cardboard, drawing, butterflies, and celebrating MOM!

first, this crunchy boho-chic (um, pretty please?) momma got a new pair of birkenstocks (long overdue! sigh – but not so chic.) the box they came in seemed perfect for the challenge. i used an x-acto knife to cut a little window in the top of the lid to serve as our “screen” for the story to show through. then i sliced Xs across from each other in the top sides and bottom sides of the box, which is where our dowels (cardboard tubes) would go. that was the grown-up part of the project.

yes, i have big feet & when it comes to birks, i'm classic arizona or maybe a florida

next, N chose turquoise acrylic paint to cover the box, and used a small paint roller to paint the entire box. then she picked plum purple paint to paint the dowels. i remember that the version my mom and i made in the 80s was wrapped in fabulous hot pink butterfly wrapping paper, but we opted for paint so we could open & close the box afterwards.

while the box was drying, we cut a long thin strip of white scroll paper (from the roll of paper that goes on her easel.) we discussed the life cycle of a butterfly, which is currently what N is learning in preschool. on monday of this week, they watched the butterflies emerge from the chrysalis with wet wings and fly away. she is fascinated to say the least!

N named 4 stages of the butterfly: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis or pupa, and butterfly. as you see above, i drew boxes vertically along the scroll of paper for each stage, and two extra – for a title page and ending page. N is a sucker for puns, and got a great idea to draw a butterfly dancing on a stage for her title page: “stages of a butterfly”

she then got busy illustrating each of the phases in the cycle.

and was quite proud.

after the box was dry, N added many different butterfly stickers to its surface.

we opened the lid and used packaging tape to tape the top of the scroll to the top dowel and the bottom to the bottom dowel. (i love that this box has a hinged lid so that we can open and close it to perhaps insert different “stories” later!)

that's the image of the butterfly dancing on a stage. get it? ;)

once the story box was complete, N was sooo excited about it! “we made a TV!” she exclaimed. i’ll let her give you the little tour through her story, winding the dowels at the top and bottom to crank the scroll through the images…

the four stages – images spliced together

click image to enlarge to see details - those are droplets from the "wet wings" in the last image

ta da!

the end (i'm sure the box could have used another coat of paint)

thank you to rachelle at tinkerlab for this challenge and for one year of your oh-so-inspiring blogs! and huge gratitude to my amazing mom for your contagious creative spirit and igniting my passion for self-expression! i hope i can do the same for my daughter.

happy mothers’ day weekend, mommas!


wanna see more cardboard creations?


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warming tray + wax = wonderful

there is a day in my graduate training that sticks out for me – it’s the day i went to the studio of one of my most inspiring mentors, mimi farrelly-hansen. she showed me and a few of my colleagues a really relaxing art activity – using a warming tray to draw with crayons.

this process is great for relaxation and stress relief, as the crayons just move so freely and softly across the warming tray as they are melting… it is soooo addictive – (really, i’m warning you!) i recently bought a warming tray just for this purpose, but i got the cheapest one i could find and it does not have a setting for low or high heat. it’s always running on a pretty hot temperature, thus N can’t do this activity with me just yet. i wanted to post it for those of you with children who would be able to understand safety around using a warming tray – use your judgement about your own child, and always supervise children around a warming tray.

there are a couple of ways to engage in this activity. over the years, i’ve found that finger painting paper is my favorite paper to use because of its glossy quality, though other papers work just fine. metallic crayons are fabulous for this exercise, but any old crayons will do. here i used non-metallics primarily, with some silver and gold in there.

you can lay the paper directly onto a warming tray on low heat, and draw on it right there with peeled crayons. it’s luscious.

another thing you can do is line the tray with foil (when cool, before you turn it on) and draw on the foil. then do some print-making my pressing papers onto the design you’ve created.

i dragged this paper through the image on the foil for a smeared effect

the process is highly satisfying and results are always stunning with either method.

if you use the finger painting paper, the light shines through these so beautifully…

hopefully this sparks some ideas for you suncatcher and lantern makers out there

i made a few cards from some of the prints.

these really do make great sun-catchers… i made this butterfly as a gift for N, since she’s quite obsessed with chasing butterflies around our backyard (and has seriously almost gone through our screen door a few times in pursuit of the elusive yellow-swallowtail.)

simple butterfly made by filling a black construction paper cut-out with the pretty paper



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eggshell mosaics

yesterday i made egg salad with all of our hardboiled easter eggs, and as i was peeling these colorful little orbs, i thought that the pretty shells must have yet another life in them. then it hit me – mosaics.

i have always adored making mosaics. i made a huuuge one in grad school from tiles i painted, fired, cut, and grouted myself… mixed with mirrors and photos under glass. whew! this was going to be quite a different feat – so much tinier, so much easier, right? so i saved the shells.

then i organized them by color while N napped – way satisfying for this ROY G BIV nerd!

i decided that the colors would really pop on a black background. i took the liberty of drawing butterfly and dragonfly shapes on the papers before N woke up that we could fill in together later. your kids can draw their own shapes, or no shapes at all. the eggshells are so pretty in their own right that they don’t need a design, but i thought the colors and broken shapes lent themselves well to winged creatures.

when N was awake, we got out the trusty elmer’s glue and tried the mosaic. um, fail. okay… if you have older kids (like kids who have the dexterity to peel the tiniest, most delicate stickers off of sticker paper with half-dried glue on their hands and not get frustrated, that’s the age we’re going for. fyi: even i am barely mature enough to tolerate this.)

fill the design with glue, and start putting down the tiny shell bits. try not to scream. i totally lost N within about two minutes of this, though she was my colorist and told me which colors to make the insects’ body parts.

then she ran around a lot and drew on her magnadoodle, eventually revisiting to check on how i was doing.


she helped me to spread the remaining eggshells in our flowerbed when we were all finished.

all in all, i feel like this would be a great meditative exercise in patience for adults and older children, but hardly for toddlers. i thought i’d include it here, for those individuals. enjoy every little bit and piece!

where would my home be without ikea ribba frames?


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big butterfly

just a petite post about a big butterfly. last year we made these little coffee filter butterflies, that i blogged about recently.

then an art therapist friend gave me a few of these huuuuge coffee filters. so one rainy day, we colored all over one of them with markers, like we’ve done before to make coffee filter flowers.

then we set it outside in the rain. (we kept ours out there too long -while we went to ballet class- and most of the color washed away. usually you can just remove it from the rain after about 5 minutes of getting soaked.)

once it was dry, N wanted to wear it.

then we gathered it in the center, paperclipped it, and attached some twisted pipe cleaners to the center for the butterfly’s body. now N’s playhouse (<– stay tuned) has a large lepidoptera friend in the window, catching the light.

you don’t have to go big to do this — regular, human-sized coffee filters will do.


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clothespin butterfly

one year ago, when N was 26 months old, we went to a spring festival where they offered many crafts for the kids. this is an easy and fun one that N enjoyed making — clothespin butterflies! all you need are a few household items: a pipe-cleaner, a clothespin, and a coffee filter, as well as some markers.


first, let your child’s imagination run wild in coloring all over the coffee filters with the markers. if it is raining when you do this – you know those spring showers can be an artistic blessing – then put the colored (with a water-based marker) filters onto a cookie sheet outside for a minute to let the colors bleed, then dry them out before proceeding. you can see that effect from when we made coffee filter flowers last year. even if it’s not raining, the butterflies can be lovely. just let your child color away until his or her heart is content.


then bend a pipe cleaner (or half of one, actually) into an antenna shape. crinkle your coffee filter in the center and clip that into the clothespin along with the pipe cleaner. and there you have your winged springtime friend…

flutterby - ours got a bit wrinkled, but you get the idea


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waxing aesthetic

we’ve just made a visit to a wonderful local butterfly pavilion. N has had butterflies on the brain ever since and wanted to make one. i saw this melted crayon shaving project online a while back, and i figured we could make a butterfly to hang in a window.

first, i found extra crayons we had laying around and shaved them with a potato peeler while N napped. (if you do this with your child, it requires supervision, as the peelers can be sharp!) i grouped the colors into four different bowls so that it would be pleasing for my daughter to blend them, though it would be fine for them all to be mixed together initially, too.

crayon shavings

crayon shavings

i taped wax paper down onto N’s little table, and displayed the colorful bowls for her. when she saw this project set up, she got very excited and said, “mommy, i love to make pictures! do you love to do this too?” then she got busy, sprinkling the crayon shavings onto the wax paper. she moved them around with her hands, and seemed to enjoy the tactile nature of this project for quite a while.


crayon shavings tactile

when she was finished, we made sure the crayons shavings were arranged very close together, with little or no space in between them. i taped another sheet of wax paper over top, and laid down a dishtowel on top of that. i set the iron to “cotton” and once it was hot, i ironed over the dishtowel with the purpose of melting the crayon shavings together. i learned, in my first time doing this today, that it is probably best not to move the iron back and forth because it can create a snag in the wax paper. rather, you can just press the iron down over the area. i also learned that if you plan to hang this in a window, use thin layers of crayon shavings to make it translucent rather than opaque. ours has spots of both.

after, it looked like this:

melted crayons held up to the light

melted crayons held up to the light

after the sandwiched wax cooled off, we decided to cut it into the shape of a butterfly to hang in the window. you can cut this into endless shapes, or leave the sheet as is, if you’d like. after we cut it, i ironed the edges of the cut butterfly again (under the towel) to seal it, as i noticed some rogue crayon shavings escaping the sandwich. i poked two holes into the butterfly (with a straight pin) and strung some embroidery thread through them to hang N’s creation in the window. almost like stained glass, here is N’s new playroom decoration:

butterfly suncatcher

butterfly suncatcher

admiring her work

admiring her work

this project can be done to make stained glass-like art. it would be a cute way to make small, handmade ornaments as gifts. it can also be done on white paper. (i think glossy fingerpainting paper would work well) to do a melted crayon picture. instead of scattering the crayons randomly, your kid can create a picture or pattern with them, too. many options, all colorful and beautiful!


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