Hello butterfly paintings!

the messy artist kids art studioSomething as simple as tweaking the scale of a project creates excitement about it for the students. Working very large or very small intrigues the children, and encourages them to use a new perspective. With its large size paper and method of painting without using brushes, this symmetry painting captures kidsʼ attention from the start. They learn about primary colors, secondary colors, and symmetry by creating a big and bold butterfly shaped painting.

Age Level: 3 – 5 years


  • Learning about symmetry
  • Learning about primary colors
  • Learning about and creating secondary colors


  • 18” x 24” white paper (2-3 per student, and one for the teacher to demonstrate with)
  • tempera paint in primary colors
  • small containers for paint – we use condiment sized plastic cups (set of 3 for every 2 students)
  • plastic trays or lids to keep the paints together – we use takeout container lids
  • wooden craft sticks (set of 3 for every student)

art classes for kids new jerseyTeacher Preparation:

  • Cut out butterfly shape from 18” x 24” papers by folding in half, and using a prepared template to cut around. Make 2-3 per student, and one for the teacher to demonstrate with.
  • Fill containers with paint, one set of primary colors per every 2 students to share. Place in plastic tray for easier carrying and use by the students
  • Put 2 sticks in each dish so each student has their own.
  • Create sample artwork.


Show students the sample artwork and tell them they will be creating this painting, but they wonʼt be using any brushes.

Bring out the paints and sticks, and talk to them about primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). Primary colors are colors that cannot be made by mixing any colors, but they are the basis for all other colors: by mixing the primaries, all the colors can be created. Red, yellow and blue are the primary colors.

In todayʼs project, they will be creating secondary colors by mixing primary colors.

kids butterfly projectHave the students start at the top of their butterfly and using a stick, pick up some yellow paint. Tap it onto the upper part of the butterflyʼs wing. Now do the same with red, putting it on or right beside the yellow. Encourage the students to use a lot of paint.

Have them fold the wings together and vigorously rub the paper. Open it up again – the colors have mixed together! They have created a secondary color – without using a paintbrush!

art party for children new jerseyNext have them do blue and red in the middle of the butterfly, and finally blue and yellow at the bottom.

painting project for kidsWhen they have finished creating all 3 secondary colors, have them look at their paintings. Show them that they are symmetrical – the same on each side.

teaching primary colors to childrenStudents can do more mixing on the same butterfly papers, or start another if they wish. These always turn out great, and kids are so proud of them!

art classes for kids njThey take a while to dry and can go home the next session.kids art


Author: hellokidsart

The Messy Artist is a special place to create art. We offer year-round art classes for children 18 months through adulthood. In addition to art classes from September through June, we offer summer art camp and Drop-In and Play art activities for kids between our regular sessions. Our bright, colorful studio is also the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party! The Messy Artist children’s art center was created and designed by Owner/Director Donna Bernstein, a professional educator and artist. The curriculum is inspired and guided by Donna’s teaching experience and research in child development, as well as her passion for art. At The Messy Artist, art lessons for kids entertain and enrich their brains, bodies, and hearts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s