Cardboard Tube Firefly

Lately, I've become a little bit obsessed with state symbols. I know all of California's, having grown up here and then taught my 4th and 5th graders about them back in my teaching days, but it wasn't until Steve and I started making an effort to take Trevor to all 50 states that I started really caring about other states' symbols. For example, it was very important to me to eat Maryland's state dessert, Smith Island Cake, during our visit last fall. I'm glad I did. It was delicious. 

I noticed that a lot of states (including California) have a butterfly species as their state insect. But only one state, Pennsylvania, has named the firefly as its sole state insect. (Tennessee has named the firefly as one of four state insects.) I did a firefly craft way back when Trevor was in first grade and writing a report about fireflies. They are such interesting insects! I challenged myself to make a cardboard tube version of a firefly. 

I love how my firefly turned out! If I were an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania or Tennessee, we would make these in the classroom as part of a study of state symbols. Then I would hang a string of blinking Christmas lights on a bulletin board or window, putting one firefly over each lightbulb. Wouldn't that be awesome?! If you know any elementary school teachers in Pennsylvania or Tennessee, tell them about my idea because I really think this should happen!


Cardboard Tube Firefly


  • cardboard tube
  • scissors
  • acrylic paint (black, red, yellow)
  • paintbrush
  • black cardstock or construction paper
  • craft glue


Cut the cardboard tube in half. You only need one half for each firefly. 

Paint the firefly, using an image for reference. It helps to do a base coat and let it dry completely before adding the other colors. I experimented with different base colors and it didn't make much of a difference. 

I also experimented with rounding off the tube before painting it vs. after. My suggestion is to do the base coat in red or yellow, use the scissors to round off the head, and then paint in the details. When it's dry, use the scissors to perfect the head shape and to add slight rounding to the wings. 

Turn the firefly upside down. Cut eight thin strips of construction paper or cardstock. Two are antennae and six are legs. Glue them in place - antennae on the head and pairs of legs on the in the half closest to the head. 

Now hang some blinking lights and position the fireflies above them. And then send me a photo because I totally want to see how that looks with a whole classroom's worth of fireflies on display! 

1 comment:

  1. This is AWESOME! And I love that idea for a school project too!! VERY COOL!!!!!!!!!


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