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 12×12 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!!