You know that paper towel that your kiddo uses to clean off her paintbrush during a serious watercolor session? Yep, the one that looks awesomely pretty and you kind of wish you could frame. That one. Well, this activity takes your child’s painty paper towel and puts it at the center of things. Your little learner can explore art and science, all while making a ridiculously adorable rainbow butterfly.
I suggest using a textured paper towel here. Those plain Jane ones just don’t have the little valleys and grooves that let the paint do its thing. At least, not to its fullest extent. Oh, and avoid anything with a print or words on it. The fall apple-themed paper towel roll looks cute in the kitchen but is not practical for these purposes. Along with paper towels, you’ll need watercolor paint, a thin paintbrush, one clothespin, two googly eyes, one piece of cardstock paper, and some clear-drying school glue. Now we can get started!
If your child is already painting up a storm, by no means stop her. Just make sure she saves that paper towel. But if you don’t have a paint-soaked paper towel, go ahead and make one. Ask your child to predict what will happen when she dips her brush in the water, then the paint and then drip it onto the paper towel. Hint: The colors will start running and bleed into one another. Keep on going, adding more and more colors until the entire towel is filled.
As you are waiting for the paper towel to dry, your child can start on the rainbow butterfly’s body. Paint the clothespin, add a few dots of glue on the top, and press on those eyes.
The butterfly needs wings. Right? Pick up the paint-covered paper towel. Whoa! It’s dry. Where did the water go? And why is there only paint left behind? Ask your child these questions, therefore helping her to learn about water and evaporation. Gather the paper towel at the center, making two rainbow butterfly wings.
Glue the center part of the wings onto the card stock paper. Add the clothespin butterfly body on top with another dab or two, of glue. You don’t necessarily have to glue the butterfly down. Glue the body firmly to the rainbow butterfly wings to make a flying friend for pretend play fun!
Erica Loop is a mom, arts educator and parenting writer, with an MS in child development. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy creating kids’ activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.