Nigeria: Butterflies and the Iron Age

One of the popular fun facts you see about Nigeria is that is boasts the largest diversity of butterflies in the world.

Unfortunately that is not the case.

Nigeria has an incomplete list of 1,828 different species of butterflies. Peru alone has 4,357 different species! Even if Nigeria had a complete list, experts do not think they would be able to identify enough species to be able to eclipse what is found in South America.

They may not have the most butterflies in the world but they definitely have the most in Africa. Thanks to their biodiversity, rainforests, and savannah they support lots of different kinds of flora and fauna, which then leads to a plethora of brightly colored insects.

Butterfly Craft

This is a go-to for many classrooms- a colored coffee filter and pipe cleaner butterfly.

You will need…

  • 2 white coffee filters per butterfly
  • water-soluble markers i.e. washable markers
  • 1 pipe cleaner per butterfly
  • spray bottle or dropper with water
  • flat surface with sides to spray them in OR gallon size baggies

Start by coloring the coffee filters, create 2 in the same color scheme for each butterfly

Place the coffee filters in the “spray zone” LIGHTLY MIST the coffee filters- I cannot stress this enough! The First ones we made, we saturated them and the color ran all together and became dull and faded. By spritzing it 2-3 times (there were still dry spots that slowly filled in over time) the colors stayed distinct and vibrant. It is so hard to not over saturate it but trust me they will look sooo much better!

Let the butterflies dry- the soaked ones took over night and the misted ones only took a few hours.

The left was over saturated- dull and muted, verses the right was barely misted- vibrant and distinct.

Scrunch or accordian fold the filters so that the centers are pinched together.

Take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half, place the scrunched filter in the pipe cleaner and twist to secure it.

Repeat with the top wings and then curl the remaining pipe cleaner ends for the antenni.

And there you have it! Beautiful butterflies 🦋

Iron Age Activity

Remnants of the Nok culture, an ancient Iron Age culture that exited in Nigeria between 500 BCE and 200 CE, can still be seen in Nigeria today. The Nok archeological site has delivered some exquisite pottery and ceramic sculptures. Instead of make own own ceramic sculptures- something outside of Martin’s current ability- we opted to focus on the Iron Age.

So Martin and I forged our own iron sword and shield!

You will need…

  • Cardboard
  • hot glue gun
  • tin foil
  • craft glue
  • assortment of leaves
  • a toy hammer
  • duck tape

Start by creating the form of the sword and shield with cardboard and hot glue. I used the cut out circle left over from our French Cathedral craft for the shield and cut out a new shape for the sword. I added additional layers of cardboard for support and strength, as well as lines and dots of hot glue for added detail.

It’s time to head outside! Gather a variety of different shaped and sized leaves. Arrange them on the shield and glue them in place.

On to the forge! Place a thin layer of glue on the sword and then layer the tin foil on that. Now it is time for your blacksmith to hammer the metal into place- it doesn’t really work as a means to secure it so I had to go back over it with my fingers to make sure it was secure. Martin had a lot of fun hammering and ‘making’ his own sword.

The shield is up next, for this repeat the same gluing of the tin foil and hammering but take extra care where the leaves are to create a cool pattern that shows up through the foil.

Finally secure the edge of the tin foil and wrap the sword handle and shield handle with duck tape.

You are all done!

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