Pinned Butterfly “Specimen” Project

If you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into pinning real actual butterflies, why not try this butterfly specimen project instead?

I am a big fan of natural history, and of incorporating nature into art at every chance. With summer just around the corner, we get the urge to spend as much time as possible in nature, and to save and catalogue the treasures that we find. This project scratches that itch with just a few materials, none of them actually dead.

Materials Needed:

  • Pencils
  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolors and brushes
  • Butterfly books (for reference)
  • Thumbtacks
  • Cork sheets
  • Scissors
  • Frames (optional)

Prepare the Project:

  • If necessary, trim the cork sheets down. This is an optional step; butterfly specimen frames come in different shapes and sizes, so there’s no right or wrong way to do it. When I did this project with a summer program class of elementary kids I cut 12×12 sheets of cork in half to make sure I had enough to go around.
  • Draw and cut out butterfly shapes from watercolor paper for younger artists who may struggle with this step.
  • Set out your watercolors, water, brushes, and water color paper. It’s helpful to have a few books strewn about with pictures of different types of butterflies for reference. Printed photos work well too- laminating them may extend their life. Check out my Pinterest board for lots of ideas!

Make Some Art:

  • Fold the watercolor paper in half, and with a pencil draw half of a pair of butterfly wings on one side. Make as many butterflies as you can all the way down the sheet. This step ensures the wings are symmetrical when you cut the butterflies out.
  • Cut out the butterfly shapes.
  • Lightly with your pencil, draw whatever designs you want on the wings- or if you feel like freestyling, jump right into the next step!
  • Paint those babies!
  • Allow your painted butterflies to dry fully.
  • Once they’re dry, pin the butterflies to the cork.
  • You can place your cork inside the optional frame if you wish; this will give it a gift-worthy finished look!

 Extensions:

  • Use this project to learn about the differences between butterflies and moths, create some of each to pin on your cork board.
  • Identify the Latin name of each butterfly and write it on a thin strip of paper. Glue the paper beneath each butterfly.
  • Older kids will enjoy trying to make their butterflies as realistic as possible- encourage them to mix colors to match their reference butterflies as closely as possible.
  • Why limit yourself to butterflies? Do a pinned beetle project, or even spiders (but I will not be making an example of those, *shudder*)

Pssst… have you signed up for your FREE art project download yet?

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