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DIY Butterfly Mobile

Make this DIY mobile with your little one to create a colorful addition to a nursery, bedroom or play area.

By Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol
January 2016

Creative Play book cover 

Creative Play for Your Toddler (Gaia, 2008) by Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol introduces the Steiner Waldorf philosophy, which aims to help children develop naturally and holistically. Along with 20 natural, homemade toys, Clouder and Nicol offer advice on help your toddler develop through creative, imaginative play. The following excerpt offers simple step-by-step instructions for working with your child to create a DIY Butterfly Mobile.

This lovely mobile appeals to everyone who sees it, whether a baby, a toddler, a young child or an adult. It embodies colour, movement and sound and casts different impressions as it catches the sunlight, brightening up a dull corner of the kitchen or bedroom.

Use all the colours of the rainbow to make the butterflies or change their colours to reflect those of the changing seasons: green and yellow in summer and silver and red in winter. Make the mobile with your little one watching. It is so simple to make that she can join in and will enjoy twisting the pipe cleaner into a body, head and feelers or scrunching the tissue wings to fit into the body.


You now know that the young child is deeply connected to the impressions made on her by her surroundings, be they the pure sounds she hears, the beauty she sees or the natural materials she touches. Rudolf Steiner talks of 12 distinct senses, many of which have been mentioned in this book.

As the child, because of her openness, is educated and formed by her environment and everything that takes place within it, it is of vital importance that the quality of her sensory experiences are carefully nurtured too. A young child’s environment should be calm, peaceful and uncluttered and this includes everything from her clothing to the furnishings of her room. A few simple, aesthetically pleasing decorations are all that are required.


A nature corner is a good way of adding decoration to a child’s environment. This can be a small area – a windowsill, a small table or a shelf – dedicated to objects that represent each of the four elements. These might include a vase with branches or flowers, some shells in a bowl of water or collected stones of various colours. Focus on items you can collect outdoors together. Cover the surface with a coloured cloth and change it to suit the seasons.

It is important, as with everything else in your toddler’s environment, to take care of this table and all the treasures displayed on it. Flowers will need clean water to drink and other items may need changing as they decay. Keep it simple – too many items and the senses become overburdened.

Hang the butterfly mobile from the ceiling above your nature corner so that it can float and flutter in the breeze or twirl round gently driven by the current caused by the heat of a candle.

Hints and tips:
• If you want to colour your pipe cleaners, do so with paint or pencil crayons.
• For greater interest, hang the butterflies at different levels.
• Suspend the mobile near a window so that it catches the breeze.
• When the tissue paper colours begin to fade, or the mobile becomes dusty, replace it with a new one.

kids playing with mobile 

Making a Butterfly Mobile

If making a large number of butterflies, try to hang them as straight as you can to prevent them from knocking into one another and getting into a tangle.

You will need:

• Flexible cane
• Coloured ribbon
• Sharp scissors
• Tissue paper
• Pipe cleaners
• Sewing thread

How to Do It

1. Decide on the diameter of your mobile and wind the cane into a ring, weaving it in and out a couple times to secure. Tuck in the ends.

ribbon on mobile ring 2. Wind a length of coloured ribbon around the ring for decoration.

ribbon hangers 3. Attach four equal-length ribbons to the cane ring, making sure they are evenly spaced and hang level. Tie the loose ends together, then attach another ribbon to the four so that you can hang the mobile centrally from the single ribbon.

butterfly template 4. To make the butterflies, cut shapes from folded tissue paper to make sure they are symmetrical. Layer the paper so that you cut several butterflies at a time.

stack butterfly cut outs 5. Choosing different colours, layer two or three butterfly shapes on top of each other. Fold a pipe cleaner in half and pinch the tissue paper between the two halves, scrunching the paper gently to give the butterfly form.

6. Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner to secure the tissue paper and bend the ends to form the head and feelers.

add string to hang butterflies 7. Fluff up the wings, then tie a length of sewing thread to each end of the pipe cleaner. Attach a second piece of thread to the first and knot so that it can slide up and down the first thread until the butterfly hangs straight.

8. Attach the butterflies to the cane ring, making sure they are evenly spaced and hang at different lengths.

Reprinted with permission from Creative Play for Your Toddler :Steiner Waldorf Expertise and Toy Projects for 2-4s by Christopher Clouder & Janni Nicol, published by Gaia, 2008. Cover image, photos and illustrations courtesy Gaia, a division of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.

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