Butterfly Symmetry Painting: Process Art for Preschool and Toddlers

This is a wonderful activity for getting children thinking about the concept of symmetry (specifically bilateral symmetry where the right and left sides of an object mirror each other). Butterflies have so many unique colors and features (I find eye spots to be especially beautiful). In this process art activity, children will freely paint and create a lovely butterfly. Like the Butterfly Coffee Filter Craft we did earlier in the week, there is a lot of room for your child to experiment and direct their own activity in this butterfly themed process art activity.

The finished painted butterfly

What You Will Need to Create the Butterfly Painting:

  • paper 
  • pencil 
  • scissors 
  • paint 
  • paintbrushes

Setting Up for the Activity

If you are doing this activity with a toddler or a younger child, you will need to prepare the paper for them. (If, however, you are doing this activity with an older child, you can do this step with them as a part of the activity.)

Fold the paper in half crosswise (in other words, make the fold across the shorter dimension of the paper). Draw one side of a butterfly (include a large upper wing and a smaller lower wing) with the center of the butterfly at the fold of the paper. With the paper still folded, cut out the butterfly. Now, if you unfold the paper, you will have a half of the butterfly on each side of the fold.

Painting the Butterfly 

Toddler painting one half of the butterfly

Ask your child to select a few colors of paint. Provide them with the paint, paintbrushes, and paper butterfly still folded in half so that they can only see one half of the butterfly. Invite them to paint the part of the paper facing up.

When they are finished, unfold the butterfly showing them the painted and plain sides. Help them to fold the butterfly again, this time, with the painted side facing in so that the paint smudges onto the other butterfly wing. When your child opens up the butterfly once more they will be delighted to find two identical wings.

Child folding the butterfly in half to distribute paint on both sides

This activity helps the child to understand and manipulate the phenomenon of symmetry. This will lay the foundation for future understanding. Symmetry is an important concept in math (specifically geometry) and art.

If you found this activity helpful please share or leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you! Looking for another Butterfly themed activity? Check out the Butterfly Letter Craft or the DIY Butterfly Dress Up Wings.

Butterfly Symmetry Painting: a process art activity for preschool and toddlers


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