Summer Crafts for Kids — Coffee Filter Butterflies

We have been all about the butterflies since our trip to the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls last weekend (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!).  I can’t remember what we were talking about, but something my husband said reminded me of this craft I know I made when I was a little girl… so I set it up for L!

coffee filter butterflies

When she was napping, I put together a tray with markers, coffee filters (just one is NEVER acceptable for L, so I put 6 and ended up adding 2 more at her request), a spray bottle filled with water, and pipecleaners.  We quickly discovered that it is also helpful to line the tray with a washcloth or thin towel to absorb the extra water — but only use something that you don’t mind staining!

coffee filter buttlerflies 2

L was excited to color on this strange new material!  I had to keep encouraging her to color around the outside of the filter, rather than all in the middle.  This project works best if you use multiple colors per filter and really fill the whole thing up with color.  Coloring allows for creative expression, and coloring on new surfaces provides an extra-fun sensorial experience!

coffee filter butterflies 3

Next I gave L the spray bottle and told her to spray the colors.  This was by far her favorite part of the whole process.  The colors start to run into each other when they get wet. I asked L what was happening to the colors, and she said, “Mommy, look!  They’re melting!”  🙂

Squeezing the spray bottle is quite difficult for younger toddlers, who will probably need to begin by using both hands.  L has had lots of practice building up her hand strength by spraying her sister outside, so she is able to squeeze it with just one hand.  This is an opportunity to talk about color mixing and what new colors are made when the original colors run together.

coffee filter butterflies drying

We put the coffee filters outside to dry and had a popsicle while we waited.  They dried pretty quickly in the summer sun.

coffee filter butterflies folding

The next step is to the fold the coffee filter back and forth like an accordian.  An older child can do this by herself.  L was still eating her popsicle (slowest popsicle-eater ever!), so she just wanted to watch while N tried to help.  [My hand looks so weird in this picture, but it was the best one I got!]

coffee filter butterflies finished

Finally you twist a pipecleaner around the center of each folded-up coffee filter and then spread out the wings!  Our butterflies are so colorful!  I think I’m going to hang a few of them up on N’s mobile over her bed, and the rest may go on L’s blinds in her bedroom.


I love that I was able to make something with L that I remember making when I was growing up!  You could probably turn the coffee filters into other shapes, too, if you’re more creative than I am.  We’ll stick with butterflies for now.

17 thoughts on “Summer Crafts for Kids — Coffee Filter Butterflies

  1. Fab idea. I craft all the time with my daughter…..but am the least artistically gifted person in this house and am running out of ideas that I can actually produce, lol. Thanks for the easy, doable project!

  2. I just did this today for my first lesson with a new student, and it went really well!! Thanks so much for the wonderful ideas 🙂

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