• Sarah Caughron

Colorful Coffee Filter Butterflies

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

It's spring! Make a fun, colorful butterfly or tie dye pattern from common kitchen items!


**If you don't have liquid water color, you can make your own by popping out a dried paint color from a set like this and dissolving 1/4 of the tab in warm water. Food coloring works okay, but it is more likely to stain than liquid water color.


It might get a little messy, but a child as young as 2 can do this activity more-or-less independently. Add color to your empty bowl, and then add water. If you start with the primary colors (red, yellow, blue), you can extend this lesson by talking about color mixing and making secondary and tertiary colors.

Next, your child can go to town mixing colors and making new colors.

Older children can roll or fold the coffee filter into a small triangle and add color from the smallest point to the widest edge to make a tie dye pattern pictured below.

The colored coffee filters will dry quickly when placed on a (paper) towel. When complete, you can shape the coffee filter into a butterfly or flower and secure with a pipe cleaner! You can even hang them from string to decorate for spring.

While you are working, you can chat with your child about color mixing and how the coffee filter is a special, absorbent paper that allows colors to mix and water to absorb without breaking down like a paper towel or other type of paper.

You can extend the conversation to butterflies. I'd recommend reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and then discussing that butterflies are insects that have a special life cycle that includes metamorphosing from egg, to caterpillar (larva), to chrysalis (pupa phase, aka: cocoon), to butterfly. This is considered complete metamorphosis. An example of incomplete metamorphosis would be the life cycle of a ladybug, which does not have a pupal phase.

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