Butterfly Lifecycle Mobile

Butterflies are beautiful and beneficial.  At the Clay Center we have Education Gardens Clay Center Butterfly Gardewhere we grow both vegetables and plants that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.  Why is it important to attract pollinators to a vegetable garden? When you attract pollinators they will help pollinate your vegetable plants like squash and cucumbers that rely on pollinators to help them produce fruit.  Bees make the best pollinators because their legs are shorter, so when they enter the flower to get nectar, their entire body gets covered Butterfly in Gardenwith pollen which is then taken to other flowers and deposited.  Butterflies have longer legs and a proboscis (an elongated sucking mouthpart) that keeps them from getting fully covered in pollen, but their legs and proboscis still pick up some pollen as they go from plant to plant making them beneficial pollinators.

The beauty of butterflies makes them popular in artwork as well as in our gardens.  The process of how a butterfly becomes a beautiful insect with dazzling wings is a work of art in and of itself.  Use this fun butterfly mobile to teach your kids all about the lifecycle of the butterfly!

What You Need:

  • Gallon Milk Jug
  • Simple 3×5 Butterfly ImagesButterfly Lifecycle Mobile
  • String (black and white)
  • Stick
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Beads
  • Mini-Poms
  • Glue
  • Packing Tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Permanent Markers

What You Do:

Cut your milk jug into various sections.  Make some pieces large enough to trace your butterfly images, smaller pieces to be cut into leaves and cut other sections into long shapes for flower drawings.

Butterflies lay eggs on the leaves or stems of a food source plant, so when the caterpillar hatches, it will have an available food source.

Egg Section of Butterfly Mobile:

  1. Cut smaller sections of the milk jug into simple leaf shapes Eggs on Leaf
  2. Cut tiny notches in both ends of the leaves to eventually attach them to the string of the mobile
  3. Color the leaf shapes and glue the mini-pompoms onto the leaf

NOTE: you can also use beads for eggs

The caterpillar is a long, worm-like creature patterned in stripes or patches. The caterpillar sheds its skin four times as it grows larger.

Caterpillar Section of Mobile:

  1. Put 2-3 pieces of different colored pipe cleaner togetherCaterpillar
  2. Wrap them around a pencil so they look like a striped caterpillar
  3. Slide the pipe cleaners off the pencil and bend them to give them the appearance of crawling caterpillars

When the caterpillar reaches full size, it attaches itself to a stem or leave with a tab of silk. The fourth and final shed is the chrysalis that the butterfly forms to protect itself as it transforms into a butterfly. It’s easy to think that a chrysalis is something the butterfly makes, like a cocoon, but it’s actually a hard layer of skin. Moths create cocoons, not butterflies.

Chrysalis Section of Mobile:

  1. Roll a section of packing tape into an elongated chubby wadChrysalis
  2. Tie a piece of white string to one end of the packing tape and wrap the string until the entire packing tape wad is covered
  3. Tuck the last end of the string under one of the wraps and tie it. Leave a little bit of string loose for tying the chrysalis to the mobileChrysalis Close



Depending on the species of butterfly, sometimes after days or even months, a butterfly finally emerges from its chrysalis! In this stage of life, butterflies can fly to find food, mate, lay eggs, colonize new habitats and help pollenate plants!

Butterfly/Flower Section of Mobile:

  1. Trace or color the milk jug sections with at least 3 butterfly images and three flower sectionsButterfly Tracing
  2. Cut out the butterflies and flower sections as desired
  3. Cut a 4-5 inch section of pipe cleaner and string a few beads on one end
  4. Wrap the pipe cleaner around the center of the butterfly Making Butterflywith the beads on the front side. Twist the two pipe cleaner ends together at the top and curl them over to make antenna

Completed ButterflyPutting it All Together:

  1. Tie a piece of black string to each end of the stick to make a hanger and to attach your leaves with eggs
  2. Tie three long strings to hang down off the stick to hold the butterflies and flower parts of the mobile
  3. Attach the leaves with eggs by cutting little notches in each end of the leaf and sliding them onto the hanger string
  4. Attach the caterpillars to the stick by tying them with black string or gluing
  5. Tie the chrysalis to the branch using the piece of string you left loose
  6. Attach the butterflies to the end of each hanging string by tying the string to the pipe cleaner body of the butterfly
  7. Attach the flowers by cutting little notches in each end as you did with the leaves
  8. Hang your mobile in a window and enjoy!

– Kayte (mobile designed and assembled by Jamie)






Crafts with Wings!

As a kid, my biggest frustration with craft making was when the crafts didn’t have the same anatomy as the real critter it was based on. So, today, I bring you Crafts with Wings!Ladybugs with Wings

Egg-carton creatures are everywhere because it’s the time of year when most of us have tons of empty egg cartons lying around. But our egg-carton ladybugs look like they might actually take flight.

Egg Carton (cardboard)
Paint (red, black, and white)
Paint brushes
Pipe cleaner
Glue or Brads
Pencil (with a round eraser)

What to do:

1. Cut out individual cups for the ladybug bodies.

2. Paint the ladybug body black.

Egg Cup

3. To create wing casings (or elytra), cut about a finger’s width off the bottom of one cup. Then, cut that cup in half.

4. Paint the wing casings red.

Wing Casings

5. Add spots to the lady bug wings with a pencil eraser dipped in black paint.

6. Cut small holes for the antennae where you want the face to be. Bend a small piece of pipe cleaner in half and poke through each of the holes. (An adult should  punch the holes for this portion of the craft.)

7. Use white paint to add details around the face. (Reference picture below.)


8. Add the wing casings.

  • For fixed wings, glue is great. Put a drop just above the antennae and press the tips of each wing casing to that spot.
  • For moveable wings, affix the wing casing with brads. (Tip: Smaller brads are better and black would be preferable. But, in a pinch, I used the big ones and finished them by painting the visible part black.)

Want a STEAM twist? Challenge your older kids to make their craft as anatomically correct as possible!







Water Bottle Bird Feeders

It hasn’t been an easy few weeks in several southern counties in West Virginia, especially for parents with young kids. If you’ve exhausted your store of activities and have a lot of water bottles hanging around, this activity just might help.

In the winter, we usually think of snow activities and cold weather fun and leave flowers, butterflies, and birds for the spring. But, the best time to put out bird feeders is actually in the winter when it is hardest for the birds to find food. With all this snow and extremely low temperatures, they need a little extra help!


Birdfeeder Supplies

Empty water bottles
Paint brushes
Sticks, Wooden Spoon, or pencils
Bird Seed

1. Cut a rectangular “window” into your bird feeder about two-three inches from Birdfeeder window cutthe bottom of the bottle.

2. Cut a small hole about a half an inch to an inch below the window. Cut a corresponding hole on the opposite side of the bottle. (Your stick will slide through both holes and act as a perch for the birds.)

3. Paint your future bird feeder!

Crystal Painting

4. Wrap twine or string around the neck of the bird feeder for hanging. (Tip: We chose to do two strings and tie them in loops on either side of the neck to provide greater stability.)

5. Insert stick or wooden spoon through the small holes to serve as a perch for your birds. (In a pinch we used pencils!)

6. Fill with birdseed.

7. Hang up and enjoy bird watching!

Want to get your kids even more engaged? See how many birds you can identify! If you don’t know what they are, you can head to the library to pick up a book or try West Virginia Conservation Agency’s website!


with the help of Faith (“Starry Night” bird feeder) and Crystal (with the WVU one. We’ll post it as soon as she finishes!)

Starry Night and Captain America Feed the Birds