My 6-year-old son adores butterflies. We recently spent time getting up close and personal with more than 30 different species in a seasonal butterfly enclosure at our local natural history museum. While we were there we talked about the types of things that make different looking butterflies the same. For example, their body parts, general shape and the fact that no matter what one side of their body looks like, the other looks exactly the same.
This idea of balance wasn’t new to my son, but he’d never put a name to it. In math, it’s called symmetry, and it’s found when an object has two sides or halves that are the same (or pretty close to the same) in shape, size and appearance. I decided it might be fun to explore the idea of symmetry in nature a little further with a butterfly art project.
How to Make Butterfly Symmetry Nature Art
For this activity you will need:
- Cardboard or construction paper
- Paints & brushes (crayons or markers work, too)
- Natural items (to create the butterfly’s unique design)
1. First you’ll need to collect some natural items – things like leaves, flower petals, seeds, feathers and so on. Which means it’s time for a nature walk! Gather things that are already on the ground or plentiful enough so as to minimize your impact on nature.
Butterflies are just one example of symmetry in nature. During your walk, look for other examples. We spotted leaves, feathers, flowers and seedpods on a short walk around our block.
2. Once you have collected your natural items, trace a butterfly shape onto a piece of paper, colored paper or cardboard (we used cardboard). Your child may want to color it in with crayons, markers or even paint.
3. Once the butterfly has been painted or colored in, cut it out.
4. Add natural items to the butterfly using glue. Make sure both halves of the butterfly look about the same.
What are your favourite ways to take math learning outside?
If you’re looking for other outdoor math activities, don’t miss:
- Counting Items in Nature
- Digging for Buried Treasure
- Learning About Attributes in Nature
- Number Learning in Nature
- Making Magical Mathematical Potions
Or check out our Learning Mathematically category for all of our playful math ideas.