Tissue Paper Sun-Catcher Butterflies – A Toddler & Child Art Project

Tissue Paper Sun-Catcher Butterflies – A Toddler & Child Art Project

The summer break from nursery is upon us and so we are embarking upon a summer of toddler arts and crafts.

The UK is currently experiencing a heatwave, and the oppressive heat has given us even more reason to stay indoors in the shade and do some nice gentle crafting. What better way to at least make the most of the sun than by making a sun catcher? This butterfly sun catcher is the perfect way to make the most of those rays of sunshine that we rarely see in such abundance.


You will need:

  • Black card
  • Scissors (for use by adult)
  • Tissue paper, assorted colours
  • Children’s PVA glue
  • Paint brush or glue spreader
  • Cling film, clear plastic bag, or large laminated sheet
  • Craft Knife and cutting mat (for use by adult, also optional)
  • Optional Butterfly Cutting Template Files (SVG for cutting machines and PDF for manual cutting both included), or you can draw and cut your own butterfly shape.


I like to prep our craft activities the night before if I have to create anything in advance, otherwise I tend to prep materials in the quiet moments between breakfast and mid-morning. For this toddler craft activity I prepared the paper butterfly the night before. I actually drew up a computer file to use with a cutting machine (the SVG included in the download) and cut two indentically shaped butterflies. If you have a cutting machine you can use the SVG to do the same. If you don’t have a cutting machine then there is a PDF file included (see below for usage instructions). I cut out two identical butterfly shapes so that the tissue was ‘sandwiched’ between the layers of black card, so it looked the same from both sides, but this is down to personal preference and the project is still great fun with just one.

How To Use The PDF file

If cutting by hand, start by securing a sheet of black card to your cutting mat with masking tape or similar. Stick the print out of the PDF above it with more masking tape, printed side up. Using a craft knife and cutting through both layers, cut out each of the smaller shapes within the wings. Once all of the shapes that make up the ‘windows’ in the wings have been cut, cut along the outside line. This will prevent the papers from becoming misaligned when cutting.

In addition to the paper butterfly, you will also need shapes cut from tissue paper. Older children may be able to cut these shapes themselves, but younger children will benefit from having the shapes pre-cut, or being given sheets of tissue paper to tear. If cutting the shapes for a toddler, use geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles so that you can have fun naming the shapes and colours as you craft.

Make The Butterfly

Start by laying down a clear plastic bag, area of clingfilm or a large (A3) laminated sheet, This will ensure that you are able to remove your butterfly in one piece once the glue is dry.

toddler's hand applying glue to paper butterfly cut out

Lay one of your butterfly shapes down and let your child or toddler brush glue onto the shape. Do not worry if the glue goes onto the plastic sheet beneath, this will strengthen the butterfly when it is finished. It is OK if the tissue paper shapes go beyond the edge of the butterfly as they will be trimmed later.

Once there is a reasonable amount of glue on the butterfly, have fun laying on layers of tissue paper shapes. Make sure that they overlap and help to fill any gaps if necessary.

Once the entire butterfly is finished and entirely covered with tissue paper, help smooth down any edges with the brush and distribute any large areas of glue.

Leave to dry on the plastic sheet. Once dry, carefully peel up from the plastic and trim away any tissue paper that goes beyond the edges of the butterfly’s wings. You may wish to go over the entire butterfly with another layer of glue to strengthen it further, and you can also stick on a second, identical butterfly shape to so that the tissue paper is sandwiched between two card layers if you wish. Leave to dry on the plastic sheet again.

Once dry, the butterfly is ready to hang. It can be easily taped or blu-tacked to a window, or hang as we have done by piercing two tiny holes with a drawing pin into a ball of modelling clay, tying on two lengths of sewing thread, and threading and tying buttons onto the free ends to allow it to be blue-tacked to the window frame and hung to flutter in the occasional breeze.

Enjoy making your beautiful tissue paper butterfly sun catcher!

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