Symmetrical Butterfly Prints

This is such a fun project for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age kids. The results are always a mystery, the supplies are simple, and it teaches children basic principles of symmetry.

This is so fun! Symmetrical Painting with Kids.

When my 1 year old naps, my three and a half year old non-napper and I like to pull out some of our favorite messy materials that don’t normally surface when baby hot-hands is awake.

The other day my older daughter wanted to paint, and we ended up making symmetrical butterfly paintings.

We like to call these butterfly prints, which may have some bearing on why my daughter made at least thirty of them! And I should say that I was recently asked to lead an activity at her preschool, and THIS is the project that N wants me to bring in. Not that I’m trying to sell anything, but how’s that for an endorsement?

Supplies for Symmetrical Painting

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Washable Tempera Paint. We like Crayola washable paint and Colorations washable tempera paint

Cardstock Paper. This paper from Neenah is a good deal, and the quality is great.

Paintbrushes, optional

Palette, optional

**See our video below for a brush-free technique

The set-up was really simple. I squeezed four colors of tempera paint  on a plate (I always try to limit the palette — fewer choices enable children to focus more on the process and feel less overwhelmed by materials), she picked her four favorite paint brushes (these happen to be from our watercolor sets), and I gave her a stack of white copy paper (the thin stuff). She had an extra sheet of paper to rest the dirty brushes on — her idea!

I suggested, in the most open-ended way possible, that she could paint on one half of the paper or the entire paper — it was up to her — before folding the paper in half. She had her own ideas, as kids often do, and once she made the first print she turned into a printmaking powerhouse. Crank. Crank. Crank.

The fun reveal!

Ta-dah! So cute, she actually said, “WOW,” after the first print opened. Not so much the following prints, but it was clear that she loved the process.

See this project in action:

*We did this again when my older daughter was six! It’s a winner for all ages. This time around we squeezed the paint directly out of the paint tubes.

The experiments included lines, dots, overlapping colors, and even a couple diagonally-folded papers.

Do you remember making these when you were a kid? I loved these, and it’s evident that it’s a timeless wonder. If you have or work with older children, this activity is an excellent way to introduce symmetry. For a few more related ideas, Frugal Family Fun Blog has this idea for teaching symmetry with butterflies (I always enjoy how happy Valerie’s kids are in her photos), and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas shares two more ways to teach symmetry with butterfies + a handful of book suggestions.

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers | TinkerLab.com
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

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Drop-in Art-Making at the TinkerLab Studio

You might not know that behind the blogging scenes, I’m also an art educator and make art in a sunny studio in Palo Alto, CA. Our home is tiny and I’m blessed to have a little extra space to stretch into. The studio is a converted classroom in what was once Palo Alto’s Cubberley High School….

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Comments

  1. Melissa says

    Love blottos! We were planning on making a project with these ( big surprise, huh?) they are so fun and open ended!

  2. Karenda says

    My older daughter loves this kind of activity. I just started a blog and my second post is about something very similar – inkblots. My daughter was very impressed with how the 2 sides of the inkblots matched. She commented on it every time we opened our masterpieces up to look at them. 

    By the way, thank you for your new years post – Five Resolutions for a Creative New Year. It pushed me to finally start the blog I’ve been thinking about for a while. Stop by and check it out sometime. (I’ve only got 2 post so far, but more are to come)

    http://glittermudandducttape.blogspot.com/

  3. lori says

    this looks as much fun as the symmetry snowflakes we do every year in january.  it’s a beautiful thing to hear the blessins exclaim : i made symmetry: when they unfold the page.  :)