Make a bright decoration for the 4th of July while exploring the concept of symmetry!
Red and blue food coloring (or liquid watercolors)
Bowls or dishes
1. Lay down newspaper to catch drips of coloring. After gathering materials and laying them out, add 5-10 drops of red and blue food coloring (or liquid watercolors) to two small bowls (one red, one blue). Add approximately 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup of water to each of the bowls and stir to evenly distribute the colors (the more water, the lighter the colors will be).
2. Smooth out one of the coffee filters on your working surface (cheap white ones from the dollar store work the best for this). Fold the filter in half, and sharply crease the edge. Fold again to make 1/4 circle, and then again to make 1/8 circle, sharply creasing the edge each time.
4. The child can then dip a different side or corner of the folded coffee filter into the other bowl of coloring. Challenge the child to see if they can have some white space remaining on the coffee filter (but allow the child to explore as much as possible without too much direction).
5. This is the magic part! After allowing the excess to drip off (or using a paper towel to dab off the excess), ask the child to carefully open up their coffee filter! Ask the child if they see any patterns in the colors. Show them how the patterns are symmetrical and a reflection across the lines of symmetry (the fold lines). Ask them to show you all of the lines of symmetry they can find.
6. Allow the coffee filter to dry on some newspaper. You can then mount it on a piece of construction paper to put it on the fridge or tape it directly in a window. Light shines through it well, so the beautiful colors will be very visible, like fireworks!
7. Optional: provide scissors, and ask the child to cut shapes out of the coffee filter after it has been folded, but before it has been dipped in the coloring. This will create some beautiful symmetrical patterns as well!
8. Optional: You can use contact paper to “laminate” the suncatcher after it has dried to make it more durable. Cut two pieces of contact paper slightly larger than the coffee filter. Place one piece on the table (sticky side facing up) after you have removed the backing. Place the suncatcher on the sticky side of the contact paper and gently press it into place. Remove the backing from the second piece of contact paper, and place it on top of the other piece, sticky side down (so the sticky sides are facing each other with the suncatcher in between). Trim the excess contact paper so there is a small border around the suncatcher (approximately 1/4″). Hang up in your window and enjoy!