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Art Lessons For Kids - Stained GlassButterfly

Updated on July 28, 2011

Create Your Own "Stained Glass" Butterfly

My second floor sliding glass doors overlook a bleak street in Chiang Mai, Thailand. During class one day, I was a bit uninspired with how the room looked, so I started thinking of ideas for my students to help spruce up the windows a bit to make the place a little more lively and festive. I came up with a plan: Have the students create "Stained Glass" butterflies.

Depending on the age of children you are working with you can combine this project with some color theory ( See my other article on Complimentary Colors and Warm/Cool Colors), or you can just have them go for it with all kinds of colors.

For younger children making this project, I recommend that an adult cut out the black part of the butterfly ahead of time. It requires a bit of skill and patience.

Materials You'll Need:

  • Black construction paper (at least 11"x17")
  • Pencil
  • X-acto knife or a blade to cut out shapes in black paper
  • Glue stick
  • Multi-colored tissue papers
  • Scissors

How to Make Your Beautiful Butterfly:

  1. Fold the black paper in half and draw your butterfly shape with a pencil. Then, draw your shapes that you want to cut out of the inside of your butterfly, or the "windows". You can copy the examples from the pictures below, or use your imagination. Make sure to leave a border around the edge of the butterfly shape.
  2. Use your blade on a good cutting surface (you can cut on top of cardboard or a stack of newspapers), cut out the "window" shapes of the butterfly (keeping your black paper folded so you're cutting out shapes of both butterflies simultaneously). Then, after all of your "Window" shapes are cut out, use your scissors to cut out your butterflies. At the end of your process, you should have 2 identical butterflies from the same sheet of folded black paper.
  3. Cut up your tissue paper into small rectangles which will fit into the "windows". See picture below as an example
  4. Place one butterfly to the side, as you will only need to glue tissue on one butterfly.
  5. Pick out the colors of tissue paper you would like to use and start cutting them down to fit over the "windows". You may have to measure each tissue paper against the "window" its filling, making sure to allow for some overlap where the glue will adhere the tissue onto the black paper.
  6. When you're ready to start gluing your tissue paper on, go slowly and try to glue around the edges of the hole, then gently lay down the tissue and press the edges down. The tissue may not look so beautiful around the edges where the glue is, but all of it will be hidden once the two halves are glued together.
  7. When you have all the "windows" covered with tissue paper, take the other matching black butterfly, match it up to the now tissued one. Carefully glue around the inside edges all the way around (the border), and gently press the two halves together.
  8. Hang your butterfly in your window and let the sun shine through the "stained glass"!


I found that using white tissue paper is also a very pretty option. If you want to add a loop so you can hang your finished butterfly, use string or thin ribbon and before you close the two halves, glue it in at the length you desire. If time permits, you can also have your children paint the front of the black part of the butterfly, so it looks beautiful in the evening too!

Clean Up:

Use a damp cloth with mild detergent to wipe up any excess glue. And, remember to clean off any glue that may have gotten on your scissors.

And, remember: Art is a practice, it gets better the more you do it!


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    • Laura Spector profile image

      Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      MotherHubber - Thank you so much! I'd love to write a book with all the projects I have accumulated. There just isn't enough time in the day to post them all...But, I'll try! I hope you come back and check in every once in a while to see some new ones.

    • MotherHubber profile image

      MotherHubber 7 years ago from Southern California

      Laura, I love this. You need to write a book if you have not already!

      A friend of mine is hosting a butterfly-themed birthday party for her daughter. This would be a great party activity! Thank you.

    • Laura Spector profile image

      Laura Spector 8 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      I'm so happy to hear it! Please let me know how they like the projects. You're going to be the most popular grandmother in all of the UK! Whomever has the glue, scissors and paper is always the most fun!

    • Mountain Blossoms profile image

      Marianne Kellow 8 years ago from SE Thailand

      I'm back home in the UK for 6 weeks from next week and am trying to read and digest all of your artwork for kids - have got 7 grandchildren under 12 years, so you finding me was magic! thank you so much. I'm so looking forward to trying this out as my lovely son has just moved into an old house and from the pics and what he's saying, it needs 'cheering' up - stained glass butterflies are perfect. they've got 4 youngsters so it's going to be fun! thanks once again!