Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coffee filter flowers

With Spring in the air and Mother's Day around the corner, we thought we would experiment and try to make some flowers. I remember making flowers whilst working at a Nursery with coffee filters and water colours. I thought I would substitute the water colours with food colouring, since we had these items in our food cupboard. Once we had made our filter paper creations, we added a pipe cleaner to transform it into a pretty flower.

Who can play?
Children aged 3 years plus, depending on the child's age and stage of development.
If younger children are involved you could substitute the food colouring for non toxic, washable watercolours.

Protect clothing and tables by using an apron and newspaper. I also placed the activity on a tray, just in case it steeped through the paper. Food colouring can also stain clothing and hands, so I would recommend your child wears clothing that you do not mind getting stained. If the colouring stains hands, try rubbing olive oil and lemon juice on them, to remove.

What do you need?
  • Coffee filters
  • Paintbrush
  • 4 containers to hold the diluted food colouring. I chose egg cups
  • Food colouring. I chose red, blue, yellow and green
  • Water
  • Apron
  • Newspaper
  • Tray
  • Watercolours (if younger children are involved in the activity)

What did we do?
The first thing I did was to protected the area and clothing, by applying newspaper and a tray to the table and asking Bee to put on her apron.
The next thing was to mix the food colouring with water. Bee poured a little bit of water in each egg cup and I added one drop of the food colouring.

Our next job was to get creative and paint our coffee filter papers. Bee commented on how the paper was making the coloured liquid 'spread out'. I introduced the word 'absorb' at this point and we discussed that the paper was more porous than ordinary paper and therefore readily soaked up the food colouring. She enjoyed applying the liquid and watching the paper soak it up.

Bee enjoyed mixing the colours together on the paper, by using her paint brush. 
Towards the end of the activity, she decided to pour one liquid into the other, mixing the colours in the pots and commenting on their change of state. Bee continued mixing all the colours until the only colour that was left was brown.

Bee wanted to continue with this activity, so we introduced some watercolour paints. We noticed that the watercolours left a pastel colour and the watercolours were much stronger and brighter.

Once they were dry, she held one up to the window. It looked so pretty when the light passed through it, so I taped a few up to the window, as a sun catcher. When her Dad came home from work, she could not wait to show him. 

With the remaining painted filter papers, we pinched them in at the centre and attached a pipe cleaner to them, so that it looked like a pretty flower. I found some vanilla essence in the cupboard, so we sprinkled a drop on each flower, to make it smell nice. You could also use any other essence available or perfume.

What did we learn?
  • Communication and language-Discussing the effects and changes she is seeing. Talking about what she is doing.
  • Physical development- Fine manipulative skills when holding and painting with the paintbrush and developing coordination.
  • Personal, social and emotional- Fun and enjoyment. Pride from finished product. 
  • Literacy-Developing a tripod grip when holding the paintbrush (building the muscles to hold a pencil)
  • Mathematics- Learning about capacity when pouring and filling the egg cups with the food colouring.
  • Understanding of the world- Learning about change of state when mixing the colours.
  • Expressive arts and design- Being creative and experimenting with colours and colour recognition. Learning through sense of smell, touch and what she can see.
What could be done next?
  • Gather a bunch of the flowers together and put either in a vase or give as a Mother's Day gift
  • Play flower shop
  • Guess the smell of the flowers, add perfume, essence and possibly spices 
  • If you do not have coffee filters at hand, why not try kitchen roll. It is just as absorbent.

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