Jamaica Unit Study: Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Reflection Activity

My inspiration for this fantastic activity was a similar activity that was posted on the Keepers of the Cheerios Blog on Facebook – I decided to make it more specific to
Papilio homerus, or the Jamaican swallowtail, is the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere.

First I made a pattern that mimicked what this butterfly looks in real life. From what I found on this species, it had some yellow on top, with a slightly blue color on the bottom. Of course you could be creative and do lots of colors, but I wanted to make this more specific for my learning unit. You can download my pattern HERE.

I chose to use foam poster board for my base, but you could also use cardboard – basically as long as your foundation is pretty ridged, it should work great.

I traced around my poster board with a light colored sharpie. I arranged my patterns to create a nice butterfly wing and mirrored it on the opposite side, leaving about 2″ in between for the center part.

I then cut out my design with a exacto blade. I tried scissors, but it bent the poster board, so the blade worked much better.

Now the fun part! I used cellophane paper I bought on Amazon. With most of my activities, I wanted my kiddo to be involved as much as possible, so she cut out the little sheets with her scissors around the open areas and taped them on.

Tada! I wrapped some elastic around the center so we could “wear” the wings.

Unfortunately the day we finished them it was snowing (yes, snowing in May, boo!). So we waited a few days for sunshine again. Luckily it happened today, so we put on our wings and out we went to see our reflection!

My youngest got a good look at herself and freaked out. She started crying and refused to look at herself any further. I’m grateful she let me get even a couple photos, because I think they turned out way too cute!

My oldest loved being a butterfly – she put her arms out and admired her butterfly reflection. I LOVE how the colors reflected on the cement. This turned out even better than I had imagined!

Standing different ways made the light reflect differently. It worked best in early morning before the sun was too high with your back/wings to the sun.

My oldest wanted to wear her wings all morning.

My youngest couldn’t wait to get them off. 🙂

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