Completed coffee filter monarch butterflies clipped to branches in a garden
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Coffee Filter Monarch Butterflies

Sep 13, 2017

While we tend to think of butterflies as a spring craft, the monarch butterfly is one that we here in Canada associate with fall. In late August, monarchs increase in numbers in our yard, as they prepare for their autumn migration to Mexico.

The bold black and white markings on a monarch’s orange wings are easy to recognize, so the monarch is often one of the first species of butterflies that young children learn to identify.

My daycare hooligans love monarchs, and they’re always excited to see them flitting about the garden, stopping to feed and rest upon the flowers.

Two completed coffee filter monarch butterflies in the garden

The other day, the hooligans and I popped over to visit a neighbour, and she excitedly showed us the monarch caterpillars that she’d found on her milkweed plant. She had placed the caterpillars in jars and told the kids to check in often, as they would soon be forming their cocoons.

When we returned home and set about to do some crafting, we decided to make some monarch butterflies of our own. We used coffee filters to make two different monarch crafts. For one, we used liquid watercolours, and the other, acrylic craft paints.

The acrylic craft paint monarchs are the ones that I'm sharing with you here today.

These monarch butterflies are easy enough for preschoolers to make, but kids as old as 10 will enjoy this craft too, as they’ll be able to make very detailed designs on their butterflies’ wings.

Let me show you how we made our monarchs, so you can make a bunch with your kids or students.

What you'll need to make coffee filter monarch butterflies

What you'll need:

• white coffee filters
• acrylic craft paint (orange, black and white)
• paint brushes
• clothespins

While I gathered the supplies for our craft, the children looked at images of monarchs on the internet to get some ideas for their wing designs.

Then I handed out the coffee filters, and they got to work.

Painting the coffee filters orange and black

They started by painting their coffee filters orange. Then, with a finer paintbrush, they added their monarch’s black and white markings.

Adding white dots to a painted and folded coffee filter

While they waited for their coffee filters to dry, they painted a bunch of clothespins with black acrylic paint. These would be our monarch's bodies.

When the paint had dried, they assembled their monarchs. Some chose to fold their painted coffee filter in half before clipping their clothespin on. This gave us the half-moon shaped wings that you see on some of our butterflies.

Completed coffee filter monarch butterflies on an orange tray

Others chose to leave their painted coffee filter unfolded. They simply pinched it in the middle, and clipped the pinched bit with their clothespin. These butterflies have a more rounded wing than the others.

Both look fabulous, don't you think?

We took our monarchs out to the garden and had a wonderful time clipping them to plants and various objects in the yard.

In this next image, you'll see both the coffee filters that we painted with acrylic craft paint, and the ones that we dyed with liquid watercolours.

Completed coffee filter monarch butterflies clipped to a bench, with some clipped to a plant holder

In the top image, we've clipped our monarchs to a plant holder in our garden, and in the bottom image, we've clipped them to the backrest of our garden bench.

They look so real! At a glance, you'd think that all of the monarchs in our neighbourhood had come to rest in our garden.

A bunch of coffee filter monarch butterflies clipped to branches in the garden

Make one of our monarchs or make a bunch! String them into a garland or clip them around a bulletin board in your classroom.

Your monarch butterflies will add a splash of happy colour to any space as we bid farewell to summer and welcome the fall season.

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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