Butterflies Inspired by Eric Carle

A col­lage with per­son­al­ity — inspired by the beloved Eric Carle!
Eric Carle’s col­or­ful col­lages are among the first works of art that many young chil­dren are exposed to.… who doesn’t love his charm­ing illus­tra­tions??It’s easy to make your own col­lage but­ter­flies inspired by Eric Carle.… just fol­low these sim­ple instruc­tions. And be sure to check out some of the beau­ti­ful but­ter­flies below, made at one of my recent teacher work­shops at Palace Art !


  • 9 x 12 white con­struc­tion paper, at least 3 sheets per student
  • 12 x 12 white con­struc­tion paper, 1 sheet per student
  • tem­pera paint — red, yel­low, and turquoise
  • paper plates
  • foam brushes, 1 1/2” wide
  • water and water containers
  • old (used up!) gift cards, cut in half, with notches added to one edge
  • scis­sors
  • YES! Paste” or Avery per­ma­nent glue sticks

1. Write your name on the backs of 3 pieces of paper (or how­ever many you want to paint).
2. Use pri­mary col­ors (red, yel­low and turquoise) to mix large pools of bright col­ors on paper plates.
(Mixed col­ors are always more inter­est­ing than col­ors straight out of the bot­tle!)
3. Paint each of your papers with a dif­fer­ent color.
4. Before the paint has a chance to dry, drag a notched card across it a few times to cre­ate tex­ture.
5. Set papers aside to dry (about 1 1/2 hours should do it).

6. When papers are fully dry, fold one in half and cut on the fold to cre­ate the upper wings, fold another in half and cut on the fold to cre­ate the lower wings, and fold the last one in half to cre­ate the body of your but­ter­fly. Use scraps of other col­ors (from some­one sit­ting near you) to make the anten­nae and any spots for the wings.

7. Place your but­ter­fly “parts” onto the 12x12 white paper. Make sure your but­ter­fly is sym­met­ri­cal!
8. Glue down the largest shapes (wings) first, then the body on top of the wings, and finally the anten­nae and any spots. (Make sure you apply your glue to the smaller paper and then stick the smaller paper to the larger paper.)

(Hint: Save even the tini­est scraps! This paper is too won­der­ful to throw any away! You will find uses for it, I promise!)

Teacher Lisa proudly dis­plays her fin­ished creation!

Mother-Daughter but­ter­flies.… all teachers!!

Cather­ine is ready to try this project with her 4th graders! All grade lev­els get great results with this painted paper!

I wish I could remem­ber who made this beau­ti­ful but­ter­fly gar­den.… was it Arin???

Note: All of these gor­geous but­ter­flies were made using just three col­ors of “Sar­gent” tem­pera paint.… red, yel­low and turquoise. The brand does make a big difference!

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3 Responses to Butterflies Inspired by Eric Carle

  1. Toni August 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    so lovely I know my kids will love this.

  2. Amanda March 3, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Just wanted you to know how appre­ci­ated your posts are– I work with kids at a church in the sub­urbs of Hous­ton and with refugee kids in the inner-city, and we recently used your Eric Carle project as a col­lab­o­ra­tive project between the two groups of kids. The sub­ur­ban kids painted paper that the refugee kids cut into but­ter­flies, and then they painted new paper for the sub­ur­ban kids to make into but­ter­flies. It was a pop­u­lar, beau­ti­ful suc­cess! Please keep shar­ing your great ideas :)

  3. TeachKidsArt March 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Thanks for your encour­ag­ing words, Amanda! I’m glad my ideas have been help­ful. I love the col­lab­o­ra­tion between the two groups of kids — awe­some idea!!

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