tutorial :: monarch butterfly peg doll

This past week both of my sons have been at the same summer camp together -- this is my older son's 6th summer and he is now a counselor, while my younger son is participating this week for the first time.  The camp is run by an amazing woman named Robin who has been a science teacher for umpteen years, and each week of camp has a theme: Crazy Chemistry, Phun with Physics, Contraption Camp, Microscopic Monsters, Amazing Animals, California Creatures, etc...  Basically, the curriculum is her own personal mix wacky, weird art, science, education and fun (but man! every time my son came home with an egg immersed in a cup of vinegar for that bouncing rubber egg experiment I'd give her the stink-eye).  She also has an impressive menagerie of animals at home, so every week, no matter the theme, she brings a rotation of sheep, goats and chickens to pet, bunnies and baby chicks to cuddle, ducklings splashing in a wading pool, a turkey or peacock to admire, and occasionally, even a rhea.

Anyhow, last year I gave Robin a copy of one of my books, and since then, we've been casually chatting about doing a peg doll project at the camp.  Finally, we decided that, for the theme of California Creatures, we would do a monarch butterfly peg doll.  So, here we go.

-- A blank peg doll base, any size

-- A black Sharpie-marker (I usually paint my
    dolls however, for the purposes of this camp
    project, we decided that a black marker would
    be easier for the younger children to control.
    Feel free to use marker or paint -- whichever
    you prefer.)

-- Thick white acrylic paint

-- Colored pencils - black and red

-- A tiny amount of black felt

-- A millinery flower stamen
    (colored black with a Sharpie)

-- A clip-art image of monarch butterfly wings

 -- PVA or other white craft glue

-- Scissors

STEP 1 :: Whenever I'm doing a project based on specific animal from nature, the first thing I do (or should do, at any rate) is look at photographs.  Going into this project, I knew that monarch butterflies had black bodies, but it somehow escaped my notice that their bodies had white polka dots, too.  It's a good thing I looked at some photos, right? Right.

STEP 2 ::  Using a Sharpie or other black marker, draw a large oval or circle around the "face" of your peg doll.

STEP 3 :: Use your black Sharpie/marker to fill in all the areas on your doll except the face (note: you can use paint on your doll, but for the purposes of this camp project, we used Sharpies).  

Now might also be a good time to paint the white polka dots on the body of your doll. I forgot to do this and so added them later.

STEP 4 ::  Add a face to your doll.  Pencils are easier to control than paint or even markers, and so children will usually have more success drawing a face on their doll when using pencils. You can see in the photo above that I like using pencils to draw faces sometimes, too.

(Oops.  Still forgot to add those white polka dots.  If you haven't already painted the dots, go ahead. Grab that thick white acrylic paint and add them to your doll. Or wait until later.)

STEP 5 ::  If you haven't yet colored your flower stamen with a black Sharpie, go ahead and do this. Then cut a circle of felt, small enough to fit on the back of the head of your peg doll.

Fold your millinery flower stamen in half and place a dab of glue on the felt circle. Put the bend of the stamen into the glue, and then glue the felt circle & stamen to the back of your peg doll's head.

STEP 6 :: Use glue to attach clip-art monarch butterfly wings to the back of your doll.  There are good clip-art wings here and here, or you can use Google to find many others. There are also some good choices for wings at craft shops; I used these die-cut, cardstock butterfly wings which were stashed in my craft cupboard.  Something like this, this or this might work, too.

Another idea would be to draw your own wings and add color with crayon, pencil, markers or paint.

STEP 7 ::  Look!  I finally remembered to paint white polka dots on the body of my butterfly!

This project would make a wonderful addition to lessons about butterfly life cycles, the amazing migration patterns of monarchs and the importance of preserving the habitats of these gorgeous pollinators. You can find lots of information at this website here, and for additional lesson planning, I think this book is particularly lovely. This video on YouTube is also quite wonderful.

As you can see in the photos above, the children at camp today did a lovely job on their butterflies!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this lovely tutorial. I made my first peg dolls ever to give to my nieces this Christmas. They love them! Their Grandma is hatching monarch butterflies at her farm, so I've now made a monarch butterfly for her. I bought your first book over a year ago and am looking forward to making many more peg dolls for my classroom. Thanks for sharing so generously and inspiring such creativity. I may even get my students to create their own monarchs in the new year! Blessings to you, Susie


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