Monarch Butterflies for K & Beyond

Monarch Butterflies for K & BeyondEach fall, one of our local State Parks becomes home to almost 100,000 migrating Monarch butterflies. The Monarchs gather in a eucalyptus grove that provides shelter from wind and harsh weather, while they wait for spring to arrive.

On chilly days, the Monarchs cluster together in the trees for warmth. But on warm days, they flutter about like colorful confetti in the sky. School groups throughout our community flock to the park so students can witness this spectacular display first hand.

Colorful Monarchs in flight

Coloful Monarchs in flight!

You can see the stages of egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis in and around the milkweed demonstration garden nearby. The females lay their eggs on milkweed leaves because that’s the only thing a monarch caterpillar will eat. (And I thought my kids were picky eaters!)

To observe the Monarch’s complete metamorphosis would take 30 days, or if you only have 3 minutes, you could just watch this time-lapse video:

After seeing these amazing Monarchs, students in Kindergarten and up are inspired to create their own Monarch butterfly using oil pastels. Working on black paper will really make the colors POP!

This lesson from the Teach Kids Art archives was a home run every time I did it. So when I discovered the page was no longer loading properly, I had to repost it!

Just follow the steps below to make your own magnificent monarch!

We used 12×18 black construction paper, which I pre-folded in half to give students a guideline for drawing the body.  Start by sketching a basic butterfly shape using the pink eraser on the end of your pencil, that way you can easily wipe away any lines you want to change….

How to Draw a Monarch Butterfly step-by-step

1. First draw a long, skinny oval on the fold line.  Then draw a long horizontal line across the middle of your paper.  Use this line to form two large wings on the top half of your paper.  Add two smaller wings below.  Try to make your wings symmetrical (the left side the same as the right side) and don’t forget the antennae!

How to Draw a Monarch Butterfly step-by-step

2.  Next, trace over your eraser lines with a black oil pastel.  Go over these lines to make them nice and thick!

How to Draw a Monarch Butterfly step-by-step

3.  Now, fill in your wings by layering orange and yellow together.  Using the side of a broken oil pastel (with the paper removed) makes it easy to fill in large areas quickly.

How to Draw a Monarch Butterfly step-by-step

4.  Then, add a pattern on your wings using a black oil pastel.  Remember that butterfly wings are symmetrical!   Make sure your design is the same on the left side as it is on the right side!

How to Draw a Monarch Butterfly step-by-step

5.  Add dots with a white oil pastel, pressing hard to make them really stand out!

How to Draw a Monarch Butterfly step-by-step

6.  Fill in your background with layers of blue for the sky, or layers of green for the trees, depending on where your butterfly is!

How to Draw a Monarch Butterfly step-by-step

7.  Layering your colors is the “secret” to making your oil pastel colors look vibrant and rich… and a finished project that makes people say, “WOW!”

Check out these colorful Monarchs made by some very talented Kinders!
Monarch Butterfly with Oil Pastels
Monarch Butterfly with Oil Pastels
Monarch Butterfly with Oil Pastels
Monarch Butterfly with Oil Pastels
Monarch Butterfly with Oil Pastels
Although this is a directed drawing lesson, I love how each of these kindergarten Monarchs is unique and has its own “personality”…. they even reflect the personalities of the students!

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