Caterpillar Art for Early Childhood


Guest Post by Shelisa of Think Magnet Kids

After reading The Hungry Caterpillar for the 36th time this particular week, it’s no wonder we decided to make caterpillars for an art project which doubled as our Mother’s Day cards that year. My kids were 20mths, nearly 3, and 4. That math’s right. There’s 31 months between them;) I’ve become an expert on modifying one activity for 3 consecutive levels.



But it does get messy. Which, is why I also learned to plan art activities right before bath time or backyard water time. I find it easier (and safest) to have everyone at the table together. Thank you to the booster seats for assistance! A great opportunity to practice sharing language… The “May I please use the red?” or “Would you like to borrow some blue? And it’s never too early to teach kids to celebrate their own ideas, and not criticize their neighbors…or in this case little brother who was doing a lot of body painting.



Each child dipped a small, plastic cup in black paint and “stamped” the body. While the black circles dried a few minutes I read them “The Butterfly Alphabet” by Kjell Sandved, one of the greatest books on the planet.



Then they painted in the bodies. We cleaned up at this point and let it all dry. The next day I helped each one (as little as possible per child’s level) as we cut out the caterpillars, added feet by snipping black paper, and practiced gluing skills as we applied goggly eyes and antennae. I also asked them to write their names on each one, for the 20th month old that meant writing a D. My 4 year old daughter helped look up addresses and we talked about how the mail worked. My 3 year old daughter put on the stamps!

A lot of learning emerged from these caterpillars!

Fine Motor: Stamping, Dipping, Painting, Cutting, Gluing, Handling Goggly Eyes and twisting pipe cleaners, writing

Math: Colors (attributes), Counting, Circle Shape, Patterns (My 4 year old did some ABAB and ABC color patterns).

Social: Sharing the paints and mom’s help, using sharing words and giving compliments

Literacy: The Hungry Caterpillar, The Butterfly Alphabet, Writing names, Helping address envelopes, Writing Name or Letter

Science: Learning about how caterpillars change into butterflies, parts of a caterpillar

And, should you want a complementing Butterfly Art Activity, here’s a quick one while you have the mess out…



Squirt or plop the paint on half of the paper. Fold. Smush with fat toddler fingers. Open! Wah-lah! Don’t forget to use the wonderful word “symmetry!” Cut out around the black outline to enhance the butterfly shape.

I also highly recommend hatching caterpillars into butterflies or growing your own butterfly garden with your children. You can read more about that on my Butterfly Birthday Post Here!

Happy Caterpillaring and Butterflying!


You’ll find Shelisa, mother of 3, elementary teacher of many, in a corner of the blogosphere where there’s an open fridge policy, but the floors may be crunchy. Her goal is to share teachable moments while keeping it real, making you laugh, and knowing we’re all in this parenting thing together. Welcome. Make yourself at home.


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    1. Thanks Kim! I forgot to mention if you don’t happen to have plastic cups for painting, toilet paper or paper towel rolls work wonderfully! Good luck!

  1. It’s fantastic you can get all 3 kids working on the same project. And I noticed your son had the correct pincer grip for the paint brush — awesome to see! :)

    1. Thanks Renee! It was not always easy…and it was always messy;) Good teacher eyes noticing the pincer grasp… he was simply outnumbered on how else to hold it!I love how they learn from each other. As they have gotten older (8, 7, 5.5) the gap of who is teaching who between them has closed significantly.

    1. Thanks Crystal! I loved your post about balloon releases for grieving. I’ve known several families to do so and a classroom in honor of losing a teacher.

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