Early Childhood Math and Art Lesson Plan
Create a fun butterfly themed art project that includes a basic math lesson for preschoolers.
Symmetry, geometry, and patterns are basic math concepts that young children can readily learn. This early childhood lesson plan engages preschoolers in early math learning as well as the creative arts process. Try this during center time or as a special art activity.
Preschool Math and Art Lesson Objectives
- Understand the math concepts of symmetry, geometry, patterns, and fractions.
- Expand vocabulary (both art and math).
- Explore art processes and materials.
- Follow steps in a sequence.
- Explore the natural world.
Grade/ Age Level
This activity can be used with children ages four and up.
Materials Needed to Create Butterfly Art
- Construction paper
- Tempera or finger paints
Steps to Create Math Art
Prior to beginning this math and art activity, discuss the basic mathematical concepts of symmetry, fractions, geometry (shapes), and pattern. Start by saying a math word such as symmetry. Next, ask the children to repeat it several times. After describing this new vocabulary word, show pictures that illustrate the concept. Repeat for the other words.
The theme for this art project is not only math but is also butterflies. Try reading a non-fiction (age-appropriate) book about butterflies that contains many different pictures or photographs. Invite the children to discuss how the butterfly wings look (including the symmetry of the pattern).
Demonstrate the entire art activity for the class. Point out the math concepts in the picture that has been created.
Prepare the paint materials similar to a finger paint arrangement. The children will be dipping their hands into the paint; therefore it is best to use a medium-sized washable surface such as a plastic tray or palette. Spread out a few colors of paint into puddles on the surface.
- Ask the children to fold the paper in half. This presents a great opportunity to teach about fractions.
- Have each child draw the midsection (body) of the butterfly in the center of the paper using a marker.
- Add a circle head. Make a point to ask the class to name the shape. This allows for the introduction of geometry.
- The children can now make antennae for the butterfly on each side. Remind the class that these should be symmetrical. Cut small pieces of yarn, and then glue them to the paper near the head.
- Invite the children to dip their hands (the entire hand) into the paint. Press each hand down onto the paper on either side of the butterfly’s body to create wings. These should be (fairly) symmetrical.
- Optional: Encourage the children to mix the paint colors to create new, unique shades and hues prior to creating the butterfly wings. Older students can use fingers to design paint dots or lines in symmetrical patterns on each wing.
Preschool Math and Art Lesson Wrap Up
After the butterflies have dried, display them on a wall or bulletin board. Ask the class to discuss the art processes used and the math concepts that apply to this activity. Each child should be able to point out geometry (the circle-shaped head), symmetry (the butterfly wings), and pattern (depending on how the paint was used).
If the class is having a difficult time verbalizing the math words, remind them of the new vocabulary taught during this lesson. Point out a specific part of a butterfly such as the wings and ask the children to repeat the word symmetry.
Early Childhood Math Butterfly Enrichment Activities
Although this activity does primarily focus on math, it can be used with other classroom themes or tied to additional curricular areas. These may include:
- Early Literacy: Read a butterfly book and discuss the letter B (for butterfly). Ask the children to identify the letter in print.
- Science/Nature: Start a unit on bugs and insects. Observe butterflies in the wild. Talk about the life cycle of a butterfly.
- Music/ Movement: Have the children move like butterflies. Play music and ask them to flutter their arms like wings.
- Senses: Use the hand printing process part of this activity to tie into a lesson of the sense of touch or texture.
The butterfly art activity can help to teach preschool-aged children about math, the creative process, and nature. Reinforce the new math vocabulary words as the students create expressive works of art. After the butterflies have dried, display these colorful creations for all to see.