As part of our ScholarShare 529 Toddler Time at Home program, celebrate the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle while also exploring a creative project alongside your little one. Create colorful butterflies together using coffee filters, markers and other craft materials. Finished butterflies can be put on display or used for play!


Coffee Filter Butterflies

AGE: 2-5 (with adult support)

TIME FRAME: 45 min (includes drying time)


  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar book by Eric Carle to read together OR an online video reading of the book
  • Coffee filters (one for each butterfly) – use paper towels as an alternative
  • Water-soluble markers
  • Small spray bottle with water
  • Clothes pins (one for each butterfly)
  • Colored pipe cleaners (one for each butterfly)
  • Paper plate (one for each butterfly)
  • Paint for painting clothes pins (optional)


1. Gather all your materials. Begin by laying the coffee filter/paper towel on top of your plate. If using a plastic plate, be sure to use a layer of paper towel to protect it from getting permanently dyed.

2. Have your little one cover their filter/paper towel completely in marker colors. To ensure bright color results, guide your little one towards using analogous colors – colors that are in the same color family (e.g. red, yellow and orange). Be sure to use more than one color so that colors can blend together and form new colors.

3. Then, work with your little one to use the spray bottle to spritz the filter/paper towel with water until the colors begin to bleed together. Soak the filter/paper towel until the colors are fully blended and then place the filter/paper towel outside to dry.

4. Once dry, accordion fold the filter/paper towel and pinch it in the middle. Attach the clothespin at the middle pinch point. Then, select a pipe cleaner for creating the antennae and shape it into a “V” while twisting together the end. Place the twisted end into the clothespin mouth. Lastly, add a face and other details to your butterfly.

5. Most little ones like to name their new “friends.” Encourage them to do so. Decide together if you are going to display your butterflies, or maybe you can use them for dramatic play and to tell more stories!

Toddler to Transitional Kindergarten Learning Connections

Early learners (ages 2 – 5) enjoy storytelling and related activities like this one that allow them to connect with what they’ve heard and to get creative at the same time. This activity is also a way for early learners to explore color and process and to test outcomes. To further increase the learning opportunities, talk about the story you read while creating your Coffee Filter Butterflies together and also consider exploring one or more of the additional ideas below.

Egg Carton Caterpillars
Further connect with the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by engaging your little one in more making! Create egg carton caterpillars together using a cut-up paper egg carton tray. Have your little one cover their caterpillar body with color using paint, markers or crayons. Once dry, use your imaginations to add features to your caterpillar – like legs, antennae and more. Embrace your little one’s ideas for making this caterpillar their own!

Color Mixing
It’s never too early to teach your early learner about color and how colors are made. Talking about colors, pointing them out in their environment, using color names and exploring together with art materials on what happens when colors are combined are all great ways to introduce simple color theory to your early learner. If able, encourage them to point out the discoveries they are making.

Share a Story
Reading is a wonderful vehicle for learning and for introducing new ideas to early learners. Select any engaging and age-appropriate books that explore color. Read them together with your child before or after the Coffee Filter Butterfly project.

Recommended Related Reading (Ages 2 – 5):

  • Of Colors and Things by Tana Holban
  • Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Preschool Learning Foundations Standards (Visual Arts, Social Emotional Learning and Literacy)

Age 48 months:

  • Create marks with crayons, paint and chalk and then identify them; mold and build with dough and clay and then identify them.
  • Begin to recognize and name materials and tools used for visual arts.
  • Enjoy learning and are confident in their abilities to make new discoveries although may not persist at solving difficult problems.
  • Use language to construct short narratives that are real or fictional.

Age 60 months:

  • Begin to plan art and show increasing interest and persistence in completing it.
  • Recognize and name materials and tools used for visual arts.
  • Use language to construct extended narratives that are real or fictional.
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