Finding Math Patterns in Nature: The Butterfly

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By now your child should be pretty familiar with patterns in math, but do they know about the patterns all around us—especially those that appear in nature? They may not always be easy to see, but patterns are everywhere. A great example of patterns in nature comes to us by way of the butterfly.

These lovely creatures have unique sets of wings which mirror one another in patterns. After practicing some simple pattern completion, your child can practice making repeating patterns to create their own butterfly. They’ll fold, cut, assemble and before you know it they’ll have a beautifully symmetrical image.

Have you ever noticed all the different math patterns you can find in nature? With this simple, yet fun lesson kids can learn to recognize patterns in nature - like the butterfly! ::


What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Paper
  • Pencil

What To Do:

1. Before getting started, write out some number patterns for your child using the pencil and paper. Leave blank spaces in the pattern sequences for your child to complete. If you’re having trouble coming up with some, here are a few we used:

2, 4, _, 8, 10, 12, _, _, 18, _
1, 2, 2, _, 3, _, 4, 3, _, 6, 6, 5
10, 1, 9, _, 8, 3, 7, 4, _, 5
1, 2, 4, _, 16, _, 64, 128
20, 15, 19, _, 18, _, 17, 12, 17

2. Explain that just like there are patterns in math, there are patterns in nature too. Ask them if they can name any.
3. Have your child fold a sheet of construction paper in half. Drawing from the fold of the paper out to the edges, encourage them to draw one wing of a butterfly.
4. Ask them to name some patterns that can be found in the wing of a butterfly. Perhaps there are dots, stripes, or zigzags.
5. Have them draw a pattern of their choice in the butterfly wing. Make sure the pattern is large enough to be cut out.
6. Keeping the paper folded, help them to cut the wings out, making sure to keep parts of the folded edge uncut. Be sure they cut out all of the patterned parts they have drawn.
Have you ever noticed all the different math patterns you can find in nature? With this simple, yet fun lesson kids can do to recognize patterns in nature - like the butterfly! ::
7. Unfold the wings and glue them onto the lower half of a fresh sheet of construction paper.
8. Have them cut out the body of the butterfly (a long oval) and glue it in place. They can cut additional pieces of paper to create all kinds of patterns on the body of the butterfly.
9. Encourage them to cut out their butterfly’s antennae and glue them into place.
10. Hang their patterned butterfly as a reminder of the patterned beauty found in nature.

Looking for more Butterfly inspiration? Check out these great printables!

Butterfly Coloring Pages

Butterfly Emergent Readers

Butterfly Tot & PreK-K Pack

Butterfly Writing Activities

Butterfly Puzzles & Activities

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Annette has been married to her husband and best friend since 2003. Together they are raising their six children to follow the Lord’s will, no matter what. Annette longs for the day when she will meet all her angel babies who have entered heaven before her. She enjoys creating fun and engaging printables, unit studies and curriculum for homeschool families. You can follow her crazy life at In All You Do where she blogs about marriage, parenting, and homeschooling all while maintaining her sanity. She is also the owner of Thrifty Homeschoolers, where she shares free printables and resources from around the web as well as deals on curriculum and homeschooling resources. You can also keep up with her via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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