Symmetric Butterflies

symmetric butterflies pinable

Here is a nice butterfly watercolor resist project that teaches symmetry. It was very popular with the kindergarteners and first graders.


  • white paper, 9″x12″
  • oil pastels in bright or dark colors (NO yellow, light pink, light blue, white, etc.)
  • rubbing tool – optional (I use the flat side of a beginner pencil)
  • watercolors
  • Optional: scissors, glue stick and colored paper for mounting

Discuss symmetry

Introduce symmetry. We talk about how our faces are symmetric. Then we look at butterflies and identify the line of symmetry.

Create 1/2 butterflies:

Students fold paper in half ‘the short way’ (aka hamburger fold). Do not unfold paper. Using oil pastel, direct students to create a series of dots on ONE folded half. The students then connect the dots to make a 1/2 butterfly.

Now ask students to trace their lines two more times using that same oil pastel. Students should press hard – oil pastel lines should be thick and dark.

Students can add some simple decorations such as shapes and lines to their 1/2 butterflies. Remember, each decoration must be traced a total of three times.

Ready to rub:

Now students close up their papers so the color is on the inside of their ‘books’. Time to rub HARD. I have students stand up so they can put their whole bodies into it! We use the flat side of a beginner pencil for this. You could use the flat side of a popsicle stick as well.

symmetric butterfly instructions

Now open the ‘book’. Students should see a ‘ghost’ image (faint lines) opposite their oil pastel drawing. You will hear oohs and aahs of amazement!

About 75% see the ghost image the first time they try this. If the oil pastel didn’t transfer, it means a) the students didn’t retrace their lines hard enough and/or 3)the students didn’t rub hard enough. I ask neighbors to help their friends out at this point. On their second try, the remaining students all succeeded.

The next step is to retrace the ghost lines with that same color of oil pastel.


Finally, paint the butterflies with watercolor. Encourage students to keep their butterflies symmetric – match up the paint colors on the right and left sides of the line of symmetry.

Kindergarten and first grade results

symmetric butterflies before and after

Options for finishing the project: cut out the butterflies, mount on construction paper. Or just trim and stick onto your window or bulletin board.



Tear Monsters for Kindergarten and First Grade


tear monsters for kindergarten and first grade

Here is a project I did in the late spring with the kindergarteners. It was a fun way to use up all my colored paper scraps. The kids loved it!


  • black construction paper, 12″x18″
  • colored scraps of construction paper
  • glue sticks

Art Project

Talk about monsters. What body parts do they have? Claws, fangs, wings?  What else?  Do monsters have to be scary? Or can they be friendly?

Model Tearing

Model the correct way to tear: ask students to hold up a small rectangle of paper, and pinch the paper with both hands. Now put the hands together. Make a short tear in the paper, then another and another, always keeping the hands together.

Tear, Arrange and Glue

Students can begin by tearing a larger shape for the monster’s body.  The ragged edges look like monster fur! Keep tearing the larger pieces such as neck and head. Arrange these pieces on the paper. Students can rearrange until they find a composition they like.

Glue down the large pieces. Now add the small details – stripes, claws, eyes, etc.

Encourage kids to share scraps. Don’t let them throw away anything! Others can use the scraps for their monsters.

tear monsters

I love how each monster is unique. Friendly, funny, scary, weird…each one has their own personality.



P.S. Want to organize and manage all those paper scraps? Click here and here and here for helpful ideas via Pinterest.

Prang Watercolor Review

The folks at Prang/Dixon Ticonderoga just sent me a big box of back-to-school supplies to test out.  First up: Prang Oval-8 watercolors.

I have used these watercolors for the past nine years. You know what I love about them? You can pop out individual watercolors and replace them with fresh pans.

prang watercolor collage


I love to customize my Oval-8s. I prefer to pop out and remove the black, and replace it with a pan of special ordered  magenta oval refill pans. When the blue gets used up, I replace it with a pan of special ordered turquoise. You can get lots of tertiary color pans for your Oval-8s and customize your watercolor palette.

If you want the whole range of colors, try Prang Oval-16 Pan Watercolor Set, with primary, secondary and tertiary colors (includes the magenta and turquoise).

(note: this post contains compensated affiliate links)

Less waste

Refill strips and individual color pans are available. You generate less waste because you don’t need to replace entire white plastic case, when you run out of watercolors. In addition, the white plastic case is recyclable.

Great for creating mini-palettes for special projects

I use my refills to create mini-palettes of cool colors (or warm colors), especially when I’m working with kindergarteners. For this Rainbow Fish project, I set out individual pans of just the cool colors in small trays.

cool color palette

Great on Bisque-fired Clay

Have you ever tried watercolor on bisque-fired clay? Prang Oval 8s look great on our Clay Sea Rocks. So easy!


Bisque-fired clay painted with Prang watercolors (including that magenta!)

Bisque-fired clay painted with Prang watercolors (including that magenta!)

 Available in class packs

Prang Oval 8s are available in class packs from Amazon, Blick, and many other art supply (and even office supply) catalogs.

Prang also offers ‘Prang Power’ – a frequent buyer program that lets you save points towards school supplies.

Have a great school year!




Easy Chihuly ‘Bellagio’ Ceiling

bellagio ceiling collage


Dale Chihuly is an American artist known for his fanciful, organic-shaped glass sculptures. Here is a group art project inspired by Chihuly’s ceiling installation at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Our project turned out so well I installed it on my art room ceiling!


Chihuly bellagio



  • basket-type coffee filters, various sizes
  • watercolor markers (such as Crayola)
  • spray starch
  • assorted plastic cups and bottles for drying
  • newspaper or other table covering to protect drying surface
  • tag board
  • hole punch
  • hot glue

The Art Project:

Students colored their coffee filters with Crayola markers. We did a quick review of the color wheel before coloring: students should select analogous colors, or use warm or cool color combinations. Avoid complementary color choices – the colors will muddy when sprayed.

Students DO NOT have to color every inch of the coffee filter! Leave some white space – the colors will run together when sprayed with starch.

Spray and Assemble:

Cover a table with newspaper. Set up old plastic tubs, bottles, etc. Invert coffee filter over the tubs and spray with spray starch. The colors will run and blend. Let dry over night.

Hot glue the flat bottoms of the dry coffee filters to a sheet of tag board.  I punched holes around the edge of the tag board, and used T-pins to pin the artwork into my acoustic ceiling tiles.

(Guess what? My ‘Bellagio’ ceiling didn’t set off the motion sensor alarm. Hurray!)

This project was inspired by one of the many projects in the Chihuly unit from Nashville public schools.

More Chihuly Resources:

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has an extensive virtual glassblowing interactive for kids.

Watch a variety of Chihuly videos on Yahoo Screen.

Check out my earlier post for a 30-minute group art chandelier.





30-Minute Chihuly Chandelier

30 minute chihuly chandelier

Dale Chihuly makes fantastic, organic-shaped glass sculptures.  They are in collections all over the world. This summer I saw the Chihuly chandelier at San Diego’s Mingei International Museum and participated in a group art project taught by art educator Jackie Hwang.

Mingei Museum Chihuly Chandelier


  • Overhead transparencies (like these  – make sure they are made for photocopiers)
  • photocopier
  • colored permanent markers (colored Sharpies or Art Color permanent markers)
  • scissors
  • pipe cleaners for assembling chandelier
  • UPDATE: single-hole punch
  • UPDATE: OPTIONAL rubbing alcohol and cotton balls

spiral acetate chihuly


Jackie photocopied a spiral onto overhead transparencies. She made two sizes of spirals – a full sheet size, and a half sheet size containing two spirals.

The Art Project:

Families colored the spirals and cut them out, then turned them in to Jackie for assembly. Coloring time depended on the complexity of the design (but took FAR less than 30 minutes).


UPDATE: carefully punch each spiral on the tiny dot at the center of each spiral.

UPDATE: OPTIONAL: You may experiment with smearing the spirals with a cotton ball lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol. This will cause the colored sharpie to smear and blend. It’s a different look, and it takes extra time. Totally optional!

Jackie created the chandelier form using a mix of the large and small spirals. She used a couple of pipe cleaners to suspend the spiral clusters.

Jackie’s project is perfect for grades K-6. It would be super for art teachers on a cart, or art teachers that teach at multiple schools. You could fit the photocopied transparencies and all the other materials you need for this project in a tote bag.

Here is a 4-minute video of Dale Chihuly from the CBS morning show

Special Notice for San Diego Teachers and Parents:

  • Teachers: Do you want to take your class to the Mingei Museum? The Mingei provides free admission for all K-12th grade tours as long as they’re scheduled in advance.
  • Parents: The Mingei is free to San Diego county residents and military the third Tuesday of the month. Monthly Family Sundays offer admission and fun activities for just $5/family. Go to for more details.

Coming up in the next post: two more Chihuly-inspired projects.

What’s your favorite Chihuly project?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...