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Fragile Butterfly

Students show their knowledge of butterfly anatomy—and line symmetry! Sculpt a clay butterfly that is fragile, beautiful, and realistic.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students find out about butterfly life cycles and anatomy. Choose one species to make their own creature. Decide whether the butterfly will be flying, resting, or getting ready to take off?
    2. On a clean, dry surface, students use their fingers or a rolling pin to flatten a tangerine-size ball of Crayola Air-Dry Clay. Cut out two identical wings with a safe tool such as a craft stick or clean yogurt cup lid.
    3. Roll a small piece of clay for the body. Lightly scratch the edges of where the wings and body will meet with a toothpick. Dampen areas with a slightly wet finger and press together. Use the same technique make and attach antennae and other body parts.
    4. Embellish the butterfly with small bits of clay. Etch the wings with a toothpick. Add a second set of wings to make your butterfly look like it is flying. Smooth out any rough areas with a damp finger. Air-dry the butterfly for at least 48 hours.
    5. Cover the art table with recycled newspaper. Carefully paint the butterfly with Crayola Tempera Paint. Air-dry each color and rinse the paintbrushe before changing to another color.
    6. Handle the butterfly sculptures with care! They are fragile just like real ones. Create a colorful science display for other classes in the school to enjoy.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Offer causal explanations appropriate to level of scientific knowledge.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison; Hurry and the Monarch by Antione O. Flatharta; Gotta Go! Gotta Go! by San Swope; My, Oh My--A Butterfly!: All About Butterflies by Tish Rabe

    In teams of two, students investigate the anatomy of a butterfly. Students create a sketch of the anatomy, label all significant parts, and color their sketch using Crayola Colored Pencils.

    Students select a specific butterfly to investigate in-depth. Research where the butterfly lives, the climate of that area, indigenous plants, etc. Prepare research in an electronic format for sharing with classmates.

    Butterflies are found in many famous paintings. Have students view Salvador Dali's "Paysage Au Papillions" or Vincent van Gogh's "Butterflies and Poppies." Have students discuss what they see and how they think the pieces were painted. Encourage students to paint an original piece which includes a butterfly, or butterfly-like, image. Provide a display area in the classroom for these paintings.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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