This butterfly craft is so fun and it’s super easy to make! Kids of all ages will love watching the paper butterfly flap its wings just like a real butterfly. The mechanics of the moving wings also add a fun lesson in engineering, making it a great STEAM project.
We used drinking straws to create the moving wings of our butterflies. It’s SO COOL how the butterfly flaps its wings. It really looks like it’s flying!
This butterfly craft is the perfect activity to go along with a butterfly or insect lesson at school. It’s also a great spring and summer project for a sleepover or summer camp.
Print out the free template (more on that below) and design and colour your butterfly however you’d like. This craft is really simple to make, it looks impressive, and the flapping wings on the finished butterfly look super cool!
Check out our Flapping Butterfly Craft video tutorial:
*Note: Scroll down for the step-by-step photo tutorial.
Looking for more butterfly crafts? Here’s some of our favourites:
Here’s what you’ll need:
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The full printable instructions are at the end of this post, but here’s a list of products on Amazon and Target that are similar to the supplies we used:
- Butterfly template (we used Butterfly Design #3)
- Plastic drinking straws (smaller)
- Plastic drinking straws (larger)
Where can I get the printable butterfly template?
We’ve got you covered with 6 different butterfly templates over on our butterfly coloring pages post in all different sizes. And they’re free to download and print. We used butterfly design #3 from that link to make our flapping butterfly craft.
We also have empty butterfly templates you can use. Then you can decorate your butterflies however you like. Butterfly Template #3 on the template link is the same shape as the one we used, but without the patterns drawn on.
Can I use printer paper instead of cardstock?
You can use printer paper for your butterfly, but the wings will be more floppy and it won’t hold its shape as well. The butterfly needs to have a bit of weight to it in order to flap its wings properly.
You can try using construction paper, or even gluing together 2 pieces of paper to make it thicker. But for best results, we recommend using card stock – often crafts stores like Michaels will sell it by the individual sheet if you don’t want to buy a full pack.
How can I decorate my butterfly?
You can use markers or pencil crayons to colour your butterfly, or you can paint it. You can also glue on sequins, glitter, or rhinestones.
Adding different types of stickers to your butterfly would be fun, or you can go a more natural route and glue on dried leaves and flowers.
How different in size do my straws need to be?
Our smaller inside straw has a 5 mm diameter (not quite 1/4 inch), while the larger one is 6 mm (around 1/4 inch). There is only 1 mm (roughly 1/32 of an inch) difference between the two straws, but they work perfectly for the smaller straw to fit inside the larger.
You can always buy smoothie straws to go over your regular drinking straws if you’re worried about making sure one straw is larger than the other.
Flapping Butterfly Craft
- Butterfly template (see links in Tips section below)
- 1 piece Cardstock (colour of choice)
- 2 plastic straws (2 different sizes)
Step 1: Decorate butterfly
- Print your butterfly template on coloured cardstock. We used purple cardstock, but you can use any colour.
- Decorate the butterfly however you'd like! We used a black marker to colour parts of the butterfly.
- Then we used a gold paint pen to colour in the dots.
- Cut out the butterfly.
Step 2: Make butterfly backing
- On the scrap cardstock draw a rectangle 1-1/4 inches high and 4-1/2 inches long. Cut out the rectangle.
- Measure 3/4 inch from each of the short ends and mark with a pencil.
- Fold the cardstock on these marks. Then fold the cardstock in half in the other direction so the folded tabs face outwards.
- Fold the butterfly in half, and then unfold it again, setting the decorated side face down.
- Add glue to the tabs of the cardboard.
- Attach the tabs to the centre of the butterfly, lining up the crease in the butterfly with the tabs and fold.
Step 3: Cut and connect straws
- Cut off about 2 inches from the straw with the larger diameter (in our case, we cut off the entire bendy part of the straw).
- Cut a slit in the straw 2-1/2 inches long. Rotate the straw 180 degrees and make another slit the same length, directly across from the first slit.
- Cut a 2 inch slit in the smaller straw. Again, turn it 180 degrees, and make another 2 inch slit, directly across from the first slit.
- Open the two flaps in the smaller straw and slide it over the folded backing of the butterfly. Center it and tape it in place on the cardstock.
- Slide the larger straw over the smaller straw. Again, separate the two flaps in the straw and push it up as far as it will go on the butterfly's wings.
- Take a 3 inch piece of tape and attach the flap of the larger straw to the wing so there's about 1-1/2 inches of tape on the wing and 1-1/2 inches of tape on the straw flap. Then take another piece of tape and wrap it tightly around the first piece of tape on the straw flap.
- Repeat the taping on the second wing.
- Unfold the butterfly and see how the straws control the movement of the butterfly's wings.Hold the longer (inside) straw with one hand and use your other hand to move the shorter (outside) straw up and down.
- Your flapping butterfly craft is complete!
Kids will love playing with this butterfly craft, watching it flap its wings, just like a puppet. Butterflies are fascinating creatures, and this flapping butterfly really celebrates their beauty and movement!
You can also use this technique to make a Flapping Bat Craft!
Here’s even more butterfly craft ideas:
Our book Low-Mess Crafts for Kids is loaded with 72 fun and simple craft ideas for kids! The projects are fun, easy and most importantly low-mess, so the clean up is simple!