Butterfly Lifecycle Craft Idea for Kids (with Paper Plates)

By Joan
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This butterfly craft idea is great for teaching kids about the full lifecycle of a butterfly and how they go from being a caterpillar, into the cocoon, and then into a beautiful fully grown butterfly.

This is a great way to introduce some basic STEM learning with the craft activity overlapping with science and biology. A great way to nurture the natural curiosity of a young toddler.

Butterfly Lifecycle Craft Materials

You can use any surface you like, but we found that a paper plate provides an easy canvas to split into four segments that will make up the full butterfly lifecycle.

You can draw or paint the colors that you want – we have opted for paint in the demonstration project.

There is also lots of room to improvise to make your features like the butterfly eggs, tree branch, cocooon, etc.

Butterfly Lifecycle Craft Materials

Butterfly Lifecycle Video Demonstration

The video below will give you an overview of the project in just a couple of minutes.

This always makes it easier to follow the written instructions once you see the project come together.

How to Make a Paper Plate Butterfly Lifecycle Craft

How to Make a Butterfly Lifecycle Craft

This butterfly lifecycle craft project will introduce young kids to the fascinating development process of a butterfly - a creature they tend to recognize easily! Through some painting, shaping of paper, and cutting they will have a fun, and creative project that will also be an engaging learning activity.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy


Stage 1 - Paint and Prepare the Paper Plate

  1. Step 1 - Paint the edges of the paper plate your preferred color. Air dry for 5 to 7 minutes. Step 1
  2. Step 2 - Trace a circle on white bond paper and divide it into 4 equal segments with a marker. Write the following headings at the edge of each segment; Eggs, Caterpillar, Chrysalis, Butterfly. Step 2
  3. Step 3 - Cut then paste onto the center of the paper plate. Step 3

Stage 2 - Decorate to Illustrate Butterfly Lifecycle

  1. Step 4 - Cut a small leaf shape from green paper and use the marker to draw a leaf pattern. Glue in place in your Eggs segment. Step 4
  2. Step 5 - Roll up some narrow strips of white paper until they resemble a small butterfly egg shape, then glue them on top of your leaf.
  3. Step 6 - Twist two pipe cleaners together using a pencil or your fingers. This will create a skinny worm-like shape for your caterpillar segment. Step 6
  4. Step 7 - Here we will create the cocoon, or chrysalis, by rolling up a longer narrow strip of paper. Then attaching this to a small twig to resemble a cocoon on a tree branch. Step 7
  5. Step 8 - Finally our fully grown butterfly! You can do this a number of ways, we have opted to create the fanned out wing shape by crumpling up the center of some yellow paper. Then using pipe cleaners for antennae. Glue in place. Step 8
  6. Step 9 - Your butterfly lifecycle craft is complete! Complete Butterfly Lifecycle Craft

Why Make a Butterfly Lifecycle Craft

Butterflies will be one of the first insects that your kids will recognize even as toddlers. It can be easier to engage them in a craft activity if they are familiar with what they are creating early on.

However, it is unlikely they will be aware of how a butterfly comes to be (unless you have a targeted children’s book – which is also a great idea!). So they will learn a lot from this activity.

You may find them being nicer to caterpillars they find at the park once they know what they are destined to be!

More Butterfly Craft Ideas

Check out our complete list of butterfly craft ideas for kids.

All projects come with full written instructions and video demonstrations. Including:

Final Word

This is a family activity that is engaging, educational, and fun. Easy enough to be suitable for toddlers and preschool age kids.

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Joan is our creative specialist who puts together our craft projects and video tutorials to help parents engage their children in productive activities. Joan also runs an online arts & crafts store called Papel de Arte.

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