Sunday, April 11, 2021

Monarch Butterfly MATH Activities

Monarch craft using pasta

It's that beautiful time of year...when bright orange wings are starting to flutter across our backyard again as the majestic Monarchs migrate north.  Such an exciting springtime tradition to watch them, and find inspiration for our learning!

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To tap into that awe for beautiful butterflies, we've created this simple monarch butterfly craft for kids that is so fun for children of all ages.

They're easy and fun to make, and so versatile! 

Here's how to make your own Monarch butterflies for math, science, STEM, and sensory activities.

You'll need:

  • Farafalle pasta, ideally the standard size as well as the Miniature sized Farafalle...its the butterfly-shaped pasta.
  • Food coloring. I've used Orange for the large butterflies and Blue for the smaller sized pasta
  • Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol
  • Plastic zipper bag - this is a perfect activity for reusing a gently used bag
  • Permanent markers (like Sharpies)

STEP 1:  Pour a tablespoon of vinegar or rubbing alcohol into the zipper bag, then add the food coloring of your choice.  Squish it all around so that the color is nicely distributed into the liquid.  Adding the extra liquid is optional but helps ensure an even coloring on the pasta.

STEP 2: Add a few handfuls of pasta into the colored liquid.  Shake it up, mix it around, and ensure that the pasta gets evenly coated.  This is a fun step for the littlest ones to help with.

STEP 3:  Spread the pasta out onto a paper towel or a plastic tray so the extra liquid can evaporate.  Once it is dry, you're ready to decorate!

We used our favorite butterfly guide for inspiration on decorating.  It was a great activity for the kids to recognize and recreate patterns of different butterfly species. Color a body, antennae, and decorate the wings.  I found that coloring the side of the pasta that extends like the letter B made for the prettiest butterflies.  Get creative!


Monarch Butterfly STEM Activities for kids

We had so much fun inventing new ways to use our butterflies!

First of all, just decorating them was a perfect opportunity to study the butterfly coloring and patterns.  We found that drawing the body, antenna, and small black spots were the easiest way to represent a monarch butterfly in our craft. The kids had fun getting creative and practicing symmetry, observing the difference between butterfly patterns, and interpreting those patterns onto our colored pasta.

Next, we used the butterflies to practice pattern making.  Each child made a pattern, then we worked together to predict which shape should come next. 

We sorted the butterflies according to their color and traits to practice different ways to categorize living things.

We used those categories to create simple math equations.  We used leaves to make the plus and minus signs for a full immersion in our nature day!

Then we used the different shapes to represent math for story problem play using our butterfly manipulatives. This was such a fun way for the kids to use language and storytelling to invent how and why our characters were meeting so many butterflies.  We had made lots of extra butterflies so could easily add double-digit numbers.  

Younger kids can use them to practice counting on and skip counting as a fun alternative to traditional math manipulatves or dice.

We used the different shapes and colors as a fun small parts activity where we made one giant butterfly out of all the small pasta craft pieces. What a fun way to work together to solve a goal.

10 STEM activities with butterflies

Our pasta monarch butterflies are now in our springtime sensory play bin.  I used the same technique to dye long-grain rice green, added some lemongrass essential oils to make it even more enticing, and filled it with tiny butterflies for the little fingers to catch.

So many fun ways to use these to learn about monarchs and butterflies, all while we sneak in a lot of math, science, sensory, and language learning.  A great homeschool or classroom activity!

Fun MATH Activities with Butterflies


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