• Heni

Make a Butterfly Costume

Wonder With Elinor

Elinor is always curious about butterflies. Whenever she sees one fly by, she and her friends follow it. As they observe butterflies, they wonder how they eat, how they fly, and where they live. They also wonder about the colors and patterns of butterfly wings.

Is your child curious about butterflies? In this activity, explore the different parts of a butterfly with your child and then make a costume so that they can pretend to be the insect!


  • Butterfly diagram (printable) (PDF)

  • Pencil

  • Empty cereal box, cardboard or poster board

  • Scissors

  • Craft supplies (such as tinfoil, colored paper, newspaper, crayons and markers, tissue paper, fabric scraps, paints, cotton balls, or pom poms)

  • Glue or tape

  • Hole punch

  • Elastic string or yarn (about two feet long)

  • Optional: two pipe cleaners or strips of cardboard, headband, reusable straw


1 Let’s Be Curious! Find out what your child already knows about butterflies. If your child hasn’t seen a butterfly yet, research photos online together. Ask your child questions about the insect. What do you notice? What does it use to fly? To eat?

2 Let’s Make a Plan! Look at the butterfly diagram together and point out its different parts to your child: head, antenna, abdomen, wings and mouth.

3 Let’s Create! Disassemble the empty cereal box by cutting along the edge of one side panel. Lay the box flat with a side panel in the center of the front and back panels. (You can also use cardboard or poster board for larger wings.) Draw wings on each side of the cereal box, using pictures of butterflies to help with the shape.

4 Cut out the wings, keeping them connected with a three-inch piece of cardboard between them.

5 Decorate the wings. Use tissue paper, colored paper, fabric or paint to create color and patterns for your wings. Refer to the photos of butterflies you looked at in the beginning to inspire your design.

6 Punch four holes in the cardboard section that connects the wings. (For heavier wings, you may want the holes to be more spread out.)

7 Thread the elastic or yarn through the holes, creating two loops. Tie the ends together.

8 Optional: Make antennae with the headband and pipe cleaners. Or create your own headband by making a crown out of the cardboard strips and taping two pipe cleaners or two smaller cardboard strips to the crown.

9 Let’s Share! Help your child put on the butterfly wings and headband. Encourage them to fly around the room or outside.

10 How do butterflies fly? Where do they live? How do they eat? Invite your child to answer these questions as a butterfly, and if they needs help, research answers together. For example, encourage your child to drink like a butterfly with the reusable straw. To make the wings fly, consider tying a thin string to each wing and having your child flutter them.

11 Share what you’ve discovered with a family member or friend, describing each part of the butterfly.

Explore Further

What do baby butterflies look like? Elinor and her friends wonder about this question and find the answer through “more observations!” Make a simple second costume that resembles a caterpillar. Find a blanket or sheet and invite your child to roll you up in the blanket to create a caterpillar. You can even change into a chrysalis with another blanket and act out the transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly!

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