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Coffee Filter Butterflies (with tissue paper or food coloring)

Coffee Filter Butterflies (with tissue paper or food coloring)
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Students will create coffee filter butterflies using tissue paper or food coloring.

By Karen LaVarnway [Karen is a teacher from Plattsburgh.]

What You Need:

  • tissue paper- cut in small squares/ all colors

Note: Some tissue papers are non-bleeding. You want the paper that is labeled “Colors bleed when wet”. See Here: Art Tissue 

  • coffee filters (round) or white paper (cut into circles)
  • water
  • spray bottles or paint brushes
  • pipe cleaners

What You Do:

  1. Take coffee filter (or paper cut to shape) and have children spray or paint completely with water.
  2. Place squares of tissue paper on wet paper or coffee filter.
  3. Let dry about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove tissue paper and the colors will remain.
  5. Take the pipe cleaner and wrap it around the center of the filter and bend ends to look like antenna. Cut to length and glue (if using the paper).


You could also have children put tissue paper on one side only, fold paper in half and have the colors transfer from one side to the other with the coffee filters… one placed on top of the other (with tissue paper in between) will also transfer the colors from one to the other spray bottle and paint brushes give the children different small motor experiences.

The children in my class liked this project so much that we did it two days in a row.


Try it With Food Coloring Instead!

Sarah Cannington has a way for you to use coffee filters and food coloring to make cute fridge magnets.

What You Need:

  • Round Paper Coffee Filters
  • Food Coloring – springtime colors – pinks, blues, greens. (you can also use watered down tempera or watercolor paint)
  • Water
  • Several margarine containers (to hold the water)
  • Eye droppers (optional)
  • Twist ties
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Glue
  • Magnet sheet (you can find this at any office supply store)
  • Paper Towels
  • A covered work area.

What You Do:

  1. First prepare your colored water by adding a few drops of food coloring or paint to your dishes of water.
  2. If using an eye dropper, take your coffee filter, flatten it out and drop various colors on the filter. The colors will run and blend beautifully.
  3. If you don’t have an eye dropper, then take your coffee filter and dip different areas of it into the colored water. Again, the colors will blend and run together.
  4. Let dry.
  5. When dry, take the coffee filter and pinch it together in the middle so you have two billowy sides … like a bow.
  6. Wrap a twist tie around the center to secure it
  7. Then, twist a pipe cleaner around the center and let it stick out at the top like antennae.
  8. Glue a piece of magnet to the back and voila … A Coffee Filter Fridge Magnet for Spring.

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