If you’re a fan of butterfly activities for preschoolers that encourage fine motor skills, these butterfly playdough mats are for you.
Your students can explore the butterfly life cycle as they strengthen and work the muscles in their hands. And that’s not even all of the early learning skills these simple play dough mats incorporate.
The life cycle play dough mats can be used multiple ways, which is always a bonus. You can even ask your students to come up with some creative ideas of their own for using the mats in your classroom.
Related: Free Preschool Printables
Be sure to grab your own copy of the butterfly life cycle playdough mats at the bottom of this post. They’re incredibly easy to prep, so you can have them ready for your students tomorrow.
Butterfly Playdough Mats
When kids are using play dough, they slow down for a little bit and naturally focus on what they’re doing. When this includes learning a little science, we have a winning activity! As they squish and roll and press the play dough, your students can recreate the butterfly life cycle in a way that will help them really explore each stage.
This free download includes four pages of butterfly life cycle mats, including butterfly eggs on a leaf, a caterpillar, a chrysalis, and a beautiful butterfly! The kids will love forming each piece of play dough to create the shapes they see on the mats.
Materials for the Butterfly Play Dough Fun
If you have play dough at home already, you’re almost ready to go. I highly recommend laminating the butterfly playdough mats (or pop them into dry erase sleeves). Otherwise, the play dough might make a soggy mess of them!
Here are the basic supplies, as well as some extras you might want to extend this activity. I find once I buy some extra little doodads for one activity, that gives me ideas for more. I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
- Butterfly play dough mats (you can download yours at the end of this post)
- Play dough
- Dry erase pockets
- Laminator and laminating pouches (if this is your preference over the dry erase pockets)
- Dry erase markers
- Butterfly toys
- Eggs (small pebbles, seeds, etc.)
- Caterpillars (chenille stems)
- Butterfly decorations (buttons, gems, sequins, etc.)
Of course, you can take this opportunity to whip up a batch or two of your favorite play dough recipe. Make it all the same color or make colors to match the colors on the mats. And if you don’t have or want to use these with play dough, no worries! You can use the mats with so many different materials.
Related: Butterfly Sensory Bottles
If you want to go deeper into the butterfly life cycle, plan on making our butterfly life cycle printable book with your preschoolers. They’ll get to practice early literacy skills. AND they’ll have something to take home to teach their parents all about what they’re learning!
How to Prep and Use the Butterfly Playdough Mats
Start off by printing the mats out. Be sure to make extra copies if you need to! Then decide how you’re going to protect them. You have a choice of dry erase sleeves or laminating, and either will work for the activities outlined below. You can even round the corners of the printables if you’d like.
The most obvious way to use the butterfly mats is with play dough. Kids can form play dough “logs”, ovals, and circles to cover the shapes on the mats. While they are doing this, talk about the names of the shapes they’re creating. You can also go over each stage of the life cycle as they work on the corresponding mat.
Related: Butterfly Life Cycle Printables
When it comes to the butterfly mat, let them celebrate the fully-formed butterfly in all its glory by decorating it! Some ideas here are sequins, buttons, glass gems, or any other little decorative items that will jazz up the butterfly.
This is a great time to talk about each stage of the butterfly’s life and what is happening to it at each point (especially when it is snug inside the chrysalis).
Other Ways to Use the Play Dough Mats
Hooray for printables with many uses! You don’t have to limit the butterfly life cycle mats to play dough. Here are some other ideas for using the mats:
- Count how many small items it takes to “measure” or fill each shape.
- Be inspired by the caterpillar and let the kids make their own “caterpillars” with chenille stems.
- Challenge them to create their own mini chrysalises out of yarn wrapped around a caterpillar.
- Use dry erase markers to trace over the shapes on the (plastic protected) mats. Ask the kids about the stage in the life cycle as they are tracing.
- Read some butterfly books to your students as they explore the butterfly playdough mats with whatever materials they want to use.
- Use colorful yarn to trace the shapes or fill them up.
- Let them fill in the spaces around the shapes with play dough.
- Maybe they want to use real or fake leaves as props for using the mats.
Related: Butterfly Sensory Activities
Really, however they choose to use the mats will result in your students learning metamorphosis. I’m sure they’ll come up with more ways to use these fun mats!
What are the Kids Learning with Butterfly Playdough Mats?
Besides learning the life cycle of the butterfly with this printable, kids can touch on so many more skills. If we look at the activities mentioned above, we are covering:
- Fine motor skills
- Creative thinking
- Spatial reasoning
- Sensory processing
- Language and vocabulary development
- And more!
And if you have your kids help you make some play dough, there’s even more math (measuring) and science involved. Kids are always learning!
Related: Butterfly Crafts for Preschoolers
I hope you’re excited to get your hands on these butterfly playdough mats! You can find the link toward the bottom of this post to download your set.
Even More Playdough Mats
Kids adore working with play dough mats, and since they are such a fantastic way for them to explore a topic in a hands-on manner, here are some more options for you!
- Dinosaur Play Dough Mats
- Play Dough Flower Mat
- Flower Shape Mats
- Bean Growing Play Dough Mat
- Easter Playdough Mats
The beauty of play dough mats is that you can pull them out any time you need an impromptu activity. Or you can use them to extend a lesson or theme you happen to be working on. They’re great to have on-hand, and you can find them for pretty much any topic your kids may be learning about.
Related: Butterfly Life Cycle Activities
Of course, play dough mats are fun for kids to use even if you aren’t actively teaching them anything to go along with the mats. They’re still learning and having a blast!
Butterfly Lesson Plans
I know first-hand how difficult it is to manage all of the responsibilities that come along with being a teacher. Creating meaningful lesson plans week after week, teaching young children, and attempting to maintain a personal life? It’s hard to do it all (and I didn’t even touch on conferences, assessments, and organization)! That’s where Preschool Teacher 101 comes in to save you time (and sanity!) with our full and comprehensive lesson plans, activity packs, circle time songs, and more!
Click on the image below to take a closer look. This pack includes 248 pages of comprehensive preschool butterfly theme lesson plans. Your students can learn about the life cycle of a butterfly during a full-week (or more!) of playful literacy, math, science, art, (and more!) activities. Vivid photographs are included throughout the units so children can see real life examples.
Besides butterflies, we also have so many more resources to make your teaching lives easier! Click on each image below to see that product in our shop.
Free Butterfly Play Dough Mats
This free printable is available to members of Fun-A-Day’s free email community. If you’re a member, fill out the form below and the download links will be sent to your inbox. If you’re not a member, you can join us by entering your information in the form. Then you’ll receive the butterfly playdough mats as a welcome gift!
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Be sure to check out my printing FAQ page if you run into any issues.