B is for Butterfly

Coffee Filter Butterflies

When I think of butterflies, I think of springtime and flowers, but did you know some butterflies go through their metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly in late summer/early fall? I had no idea until I started teaching kindergarten. Perhaps for me the saying shouldn't be everything I know I learned in kindergarten, but everything I know I learned while teaching kindergarten. But in all seriousness we have a caterpillar that just formed a chrysalis in my classroom as I type. It was found on a branch of milkweed, by another teacher of course; I couldn't find milkweed if it was staring me in the face. Plant girl I am not. The green and black striped caterpillar was already pretty large when it came to live in my kindergarten classroom and within three days it was in a chrysalis. Now, using my internet search capabilities I am guessing that it's a monarch butterfly and it should emerge in butterfly state in 9-14 days. Hopefully. I could be wrong though.

Okay, I'm finished with the science lesson, onto to the fun. This year in an effort to be a more "fun" kindergarten teacher I am going to have an insect of the week in my bug themed classroom that corresponds to the letter of the week that we are learning. Now, I'm not saying that I wasn't a fun teacher in the past, but kindergarten has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. Kids have to be reading before leaving my classroom so any connections I can make to instill letters and sounds and words into my students heads I'll do. Since last week was B and we found a caterpillar, our insect was the butterfly. Each week I hope to teach my students a new insect and do something fun and creative with the insect to keep them remembering, "Hey, B is for butterfly, I remember when we made those really cool butterflies at the beginning of school." Well, I can hope right?

So, like all good teachers (okay so I don't always do this so don't feel bad if you don't), I decided to try my butterfly craft out before doing it with my students. And what better subjects to try it out on than my own children. I will say my daughters butterfly got destroyed, but really this activity can be done with children of any age, just make sure when the butterfly is drying you place it where the children cannot reach it. Trust me on this.

First, I gathered all of my supplies. For each butterfly, you will need markers (I used Crayola washable), one white 8-12 cup coffee filter, one clothes pin, one paintbrush and small cup of water or a spray bottle with water, and a plastic surface for drying your coffee filter (a plastic plate or plastic place-mat works great).


Next, I gave each of my kids a coffee filter and asked them to color on them with markers. My daughter started scribbling away, but my son said, "But how do you do dat Mommy." So of course I made one too. The kids can't have all the fun can they? 

coloring with markers

Next I got a cookie sheet and lined it with aluminum foil, but I could only fit two of the three coffee filters on it and it didn't dry very quickly on the aluminum foil. I used a plastic plate for the third filter and it dried within an hour. So I recommend placing the coffee filter on a plastic plate or plastic coated place-mat. In my classroom we used laminated construction paper mats that we usually use for math. 

Then my son painted water to soak the coffee filters. You want them completely wet so that the marker color runs together. Warning: the more wet they get, the longer it takes to dry and the colors bleed together to form one solid color rather than seeing individual colors. My solution to that, suggested by my school's art teacher, was to use a spray bottle of water to dampen the coffee filters. My students simply passed around the spray bottle and it took less time and made less of a mess than cups with water.

Water Paint

Next I placed my coffee filters in a not-so-safe place to dry. Learn from my mistake and place them up high where your children cannot reach them. 

After they are dry, they will look like slightly wrinkled versions of the wet coffee filter. I carefully pinched the middle together and placed the clothes pin pincher side up on the filter so that the clothes pin is the body of the butterfly.

Finishing Touches

My son and I decorated our clothespins with faces and designs to give our butterflies a little more flair. In my classroom, I am clipping my butterflies to a bulletin board as part of a back to school display. I will post pictures in my Lookbook as soon as it's complete. Enjoy!