Coffee-Filter Flower Garden

While winter snows drifted over the Heartland this week, Nia, Hunter and I have had a delightful time making this coffee-filter flower garden. What kid doesn’t love water paints? (I do now have a blue-green paint stain dribbled across my wheat colored dining-room carpet, but I’ll get it out somehow.) Any children’s water paint box will do. Parents, it’s up to you if you want to cover your child’s play clothes with a paint shirt. We’re pretty daring around here because we don’t. (That’s how I get blue-green paint stains on my carpet.) This, though, is really about spending quality time with the kids so I’m not going to sweat a little mess.

Here’s what you will need:

A box of water color paints A package of 12 x 18 inch construction paper A package of coffee filters Glue Scissors Old newspapers A glass of water A pencil with a good eraser Paint shirt (optional)

Day 1

I’d recommend you set up a card table and cover it with newspapers to paint on but any flat surface will do You’re also going to need to cover a second flat surface covered with old newspapers for center to dry the wet coffee filters.

There are no mistakes here. Allow your children to experiment. I recommend you limit them to two paint colors per coffee filter so you don’t wind up with something that looks like brown mud. Otherwise, have fun with it. Dab the first color in various spots on the flattened coffee filter. Clean the brush with clear water. Then go back and fill in the blank spots with a contrasting color. The colors should bleed together at the edges. If they do not, drip a little water on your coffee filter until they do. Then remove your coffee filter to your drying area and begin a second one on a dry section of newspaper.

Make a variety of colors. I recommend at least 5 different colors, green definitely being one of them. Make at least 12. This is more than you’ll probably use, but then if your child cuts out something he or she isn’t happy with, you’ll still have enough. Coffee filters are cheap enough you’ll be glad you had a couple of spares.

This will take the better part of an hour. The children will realize that if they dip a coffee filter on an area of the newspaper already wet with water colors, it will absorb the colored water and result in another interesting effect. Let the coffee filters dry over night.

Day 2

Select a contrasting color of construction paper to glue flowers on, probably sky colors seen in nature. Blue is of course the most obvious choice, but truly isn’t the only one. We all see a variety of things when we look at the sky, even black at night so be creative.

Fold a coffee filter in half. Then fold it in fourths. Then fold it in eighths again. If your child has great fine motor skills you can fold it one more time. With a pencil have your child draw an oval petal shape on the coffee filter, being sure to leave it still connected at the center. Then with scissors cut it out. (If the pencil oval is done wrong, it’s easily erased. Just do it again until the desired shape is accomplished.)

Open up your flower and you have a beautiful mottled flower shape. Trace the edges with a fine bead of glue, and attach it to the sheet of construction paper. If there’s too much glue, mop it up with a Kleenex or paper towel right that moment. Then make another flower shape.

I recommend odd numbers on your paper, but if your child winds up with 6 don’t worry about it. They still look great. Aim, though, for 3 or 5 or 7. This is a great time for children to understand that things overlap in nature, so things can overlap on their art project.

With a contrasting color, cut a round circle for the center of each flower and glue. Do not worry if they are perfectly round. Remember, there are really no mistakes here.

Sometimes the colored paper meant for discard has shapes every bit as interesting as what the child planned to cut out. This is called a negative effect. Usually, those pieces can be used as well for an additional interesting effect. Press them under your plastic wrapped package of construction paper to add a little weight to them so they will dry flat. The cost of this project is really minimal. I already have all of these materials and didn’t have to shop for anything.

Involve your children in the clean-up process. This is fun, but it should also be a lesson in life skills, “Make a mess, clean it up!”

Have fun, and be ready to mount these winter projects on your wall somewhere, because they are going to be beautiful!

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