I taught this butterfly lesson for the first time last year to my previous batch of 1st grade artists and was amazed with their artwork. This art lesson is all about symmetry and painting. This is a 2 to 3 week lesson, which is good because it shows children that big art projects take time complete.
First, we created our backgrounds. The backgrounds are made up of torn newspaper strips and (eventually) a wash of green watercolor. I like to use torn newspaper for grass (instead of construction paper) because the printed text adds interest and depth to the final pieces. And, as I expected, 1st graders had a blast tearing up the News!
After the newspaper grass was torn and glued to their backgrounds, 1st graders placed their wet artwork in the drying rack. I continued the lesson by reviewing the concept of symmetry. We discussed that symmetry exists when you fold something down the middle and the designs are the same on both sides. 1st graders learned that butterfly wings are symmetrical.
I passed around templates for children to trace the shape of a butterfly onto colorful construction paper. Once the shapes were traced, 1st graders cut out their butterflies and folded them down the middle.
Next, I demonstrated how to paint on one half of the butterfly wing, fold it along the crease, and press the wings together to create a monoprint of the design. We called this process “kissing the wings.” The trick was to “kiss the wings” very often so that the paint did not dry!
Aren’t they fun? 1st graders will paint their backgrounds and attach their butterflies next week!