This butterfly chromatography activity is primarily a science based one, you can leave it at just the experiment, but we decided to use them to make them into pretty hanging butterflies. 

To do your own butterfly chromatography you will need:

  • Colouring pens
  • White coffee filters (these are remarkably hard to find, I eventually got a pack of 100 from amazon)
  • Glasses
  • Water
  • Clothes pegs
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Thread


In the middle of each coffee filter draw a circle, we went over the circle again and again so that there was more ink. 


Fold the filter into quarters and put it into a glass of water. Make sure that just the tip of the filter is touching the water. This is a wonderful opportunity to make a hypothesis about what might happen, and which ones will have the most colours. Once you have added them to the water watch as they soak up the water and the colours run before your very eyes.

We only left ours in for a few minutes, but why not experiment with how long you leave them in for and see if you get different results.

Once you have taken them out, open them up and leave them to dry. 


If you want to make them into butterflies fold them in half and slide the peg onto them. Then using your pipe cleaners wrap it around the top of the peg to make the antennas.   

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Turn your coffee filter paper into these beautiful hanging chromatography butterflies.

About The Author

Nanny Anita
Norland Nanny

Nanny Anita is our resident Super Nanny. Having trained at the famous Norland College, in Bath, she has over 12 years experience, working all over the world with children from 2 months to 17 years old. Nanny Anita is an expert when it comes to keeping the little ones entertained and writes a column with Leonora called 'Get Crafty' for Little London magazine. Nanny Anita has been on hand to answer our reader questions, and she provides weekly arts, crafts and activities for families to do with their children at home. She really is a modern day Mary Poppins!

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