Mrs. White Heart's Art

Symmetrical Monarchs
Fall 2014: Symmetrical Monarchs
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Connecting art to other subject areas takes learning to a deeper level. Nature is a favorite subject matter of professional and child artists alike, so connecting art to science is very fitting. Art is a great way for children to explore what they learn through hands on activities. This project connects not only art and science, but also the math principal of symmetry. If you choose to read a book about butterflies, you can also tie in literacy.

Ages: 3 and up

Objective: Symmetry, Printmaking (Monoprints)

Learn about Butterflies

Explain that symmetry is when you can fold or cut a shape or object and it has a mirror image or is the same on both sides. See how many symmetrical things you can think of or notice around you.

Look at pictures butterflies, especially monarchs. Talk about what they look like. Do butterflies have symmetry? Yes, they do!

  • We chose to create monarchs, but you could choose any type of butterfly or create your own.
  • Learn about the butterfly life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
  • Find a story about a butterfly.
  • Watch a video of a butterfly life cycle.
  • White construction paper
  • Paintbrush
  • Tempera or Acrylic paint (yellow, black, orange and white)
  1. Fold your paper in half. Using yellow paint, paint a number ‘3’ that starts from the folded line and takes up most of the right hand side of the paper.
  2. While the paint is still wet, fold the paper closed and rub so that paint will show up on both sides of the paper. Your number 3 has turned into butterfly wings! You will probably need to paint over the lines to make them easier to see.
  3. Using yellow paint, add a shape to the butterfly wings on the right hand side of your paper. Fold your paper closed and rub on the outside to transfer the design onto the opposite side of the paper. You may need to paint back over the shape to make it easier to see. Continue adding shapes in yellow and then orange, folding after each shape to transfer to the opposite side and keep your butterfly symmetrical. Keep going until your butterfly’s wings are mostly filled in with shapes.
  4. Before adding the black outline and details, I suggest letting the yellow and orange paint dry. You could use this time to review pictures of monarchs to get ideas. When the paint is dry, add an outline of black all the way around the edges of your butterfly. Paint a black body in the middle of the wings. Then begin outlining the shapes on both sides of the wings. No need to fold your paper after adding black, your butterfly is already symmetrical. Continue to add black lines as well as white dots to make your butterfly’s wings interesting.
  5. Add a background of a contrasting color. We chose blue because it is the complimentary color to orange. I like to have my students paint a black border on the background paper before gluing. Tilt your butterfly to one side or the other so it looks like it is flying off your paper! Paint antennae attached to the head.
Jessica White
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Jessica White is a K–5 art teacher for the Republic R-III School District. For more art project ideas, visit her blog at

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