Craft: Butterfly Chrysalis

by , posted on November 2nd, 2010 in The Science Issue


In September and October of every year, a special group of monarch butterflies perform one of the most amazing feats in the insect world: they migrate 2,500 miles to southern California and Mexico to survive the winter and reproduce. What’s even more amazing is that monarchs who are born in the spring and summer typically live for two to six weeks, yet migrating monarchs must live six to eight months to complete their journey to ensure future generations of monarchs. This is the equivalent of a human living 1,000 years.

As children, we are entranced by the life cycle of the monarch: from egg to caterpillar to cocoon (chrysalis) to butterfly. The transformation is, I think we can all agree, truly magical. For the Science issue of Classic Play, here is a craft that tries to capture a little bit of that magical surprise, inspired by the tiny pinatas craft by Not Martha.

Green tissue paper cut into 2″ or 3″ squares
Small balloon
Sparkle Mod Podge
Sponge brush
A small length of string or twine
A small butterfly from the floral section of the craft store – you can also make one yourself out of felt or paper
Other fun surprises to put inside the chrysalis

1. Blow up the balloon and tie it off. With your sponge brush and Mod Podge, start pasting squares of green tissue paper onto the balloon. When you have finished one layer, set it aside (you can place it on top of a small cup, like an espresso cup) and let it dry completely. You might need to rotate the balloon occasionally to allow it to dry evenly.

2. Continue pasting layers until you have pasted on three full layers, letting each one dry thoroughly before adding the next. After you have covered the balloon in three layers, let the whole thing dry overnight.



3. To remove the balloon from your cocoon, grasp it by the knot, and just underneath, take a pin or needle and make a small hole. The idea is to let the air out slowly and not to just pop it. As the air is letting out, the balloon will pull away from the edges. Once the balloon is removed and depending on what you want to put in the chrysalis, you might need to use some scissors to cut the opening a little wider.



4. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what fun surprises you want to fill the chrysalis with – butterflies, orange and black confetti, stickers – this is the fun part. I used a little monarch butterfly that I found in the floral supplies section at the craft store (you could also make butterflies from orange and black felt or from construction paper), and a piece of paper with amazing butterfly facts, which you can download here and print if you like.

5. Once you’ve filled the chrysalis, take a piece of string or twine and tie it in a loop. Drop it into the chrysalis halfway, and then paste one square of tissue paper with the Sparkle Mod Podge over the opening to create a string for pulling open the chrysalis. When it is dry, the chrysalis is ready to be opened and the surprises ready to be revealed…



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16 Responses to “Craft: Butterfly Chrysalis”

  1. Kirsten Says:

    November 3rd, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Can I just tell you that I had to stop myself from crafting this at 10.45 pm, all by myself?? I so love this.

    Although, I’ll be doing it w/ my kindergarten guy, and he may be less into the glitter ModPodge. Think we’ll substitute the matte kind. :)


    Molly Reply:

    Thank you, Kirsten! I had so much fun making this craft. You have to have patience though – let the layers dry before you paste on a new one, and then let the whole thing dry before filling it with surprises.


  2. Classic Play! « Says:

    November 3rd, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    [...] theme for this issue is Science, and I created a Monarch butterfly chrysalis craft, inspired by Not Martha’s tiny pinatas and an experience I had with Monarchs at work last [...]

  3. And Now It’s Time for the Top 5s of 2010 Says:

    December 28th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    [...] 5 Crafts: 5. Circus Inspired Puppet Theater 4. Teacher Gift 3. Cut Ups 2. Butterfly Chrysalis by Molly de Aguiar 1. Napkin Self [...]

  4. ella Says:

    January 19th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    i love it it is so clever and you can’t even tell the cacoon is a balloon


  5. And Now the News… Says:

    April 15th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    [...] Craft: Butterfly Chrysalis 2. Printable: Lunch Box Menus 3. Tiny Hats Contest 4. Marshmallow Building 5. Ewok Birthday [...]

  6. And Now the News Says:

    July 29th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    [...] It’s a fantastic art project for kids. This one features butterflies, but I imagine you could do it with balloons or whatever the kids happen to be into (airplanes, stars, etc). Of course, if you’re doing a unit on butterflies or hosting a butterfly themed party, you could totally pair it with this educational craft. [...]

  7. Michelle Says:

    April 4th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    awesome!!! We are using this craft for our arts ministry at church! And we’ll be opening them on Ester Sunday!


  8. Amanda Scurry Says:

    August 22nd, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This is amazing! I am in the process of making one and will use it for my Butterflies storytime on Friday! It will be so magical! Thanks for the idea.


  9. Jen Says:

    April 24th, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    This is such a great idea! I am a Leader with the Girl Guides of Canada, and my Sparks Group (girls 5-7 years old) and we have some girls who are moving on to Brownies. Every year we host an advancement ceremony, and this year we decided to do a butterfly theme…the girls get their wings and move on to Brownies. We are going to make this craft with the second year sparks and we will fill it with their butterfly they are making, and they can open it during the advancement in front of everyone, put their butterfly on a tree, and move on to Brownies!


  10. christine Says:

    February 17th, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    about how long does this take from start to finish? Is it best broken up over 2 days to allow the mod podge to dry? thanks,


    christine Reply:

    (how long does it take to dry between each of the three layers, that is).


    Molly de Aguiar Reply:

    Hi Christine -

    Definitely best to break it up over 2 days, maybe even 3. It’s been awhile since I did this project, and I remember sort of messing up a few times before getting it right. So, yes, it requires some patience!


    christine Reply:

    OK thanks!! :-) I wanted to do this in one 50min class but I think I’ll break it up over 3-4 days. Thanks!

  11. Christine Says:

    April 27th, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    One other question – can you estimate about how many tissue squares per layer is needed for each balloon?


    Molly Reply:

    Honestly, I’m really not sure. It’s several layers, but of course the balloon is small, so per layer – maybe 7 or 8?

    You will have to experiment to see what works best in terms of the size of the squares and the size of the balloons you use.


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