It was a glum and smoky day. Outside the temperature was finally cooling down, but the smoke made it impossible to really enjoy it. I needed a pick-me-up and fast, so once again, I turned to my old friend the coffee filter.   

This is another great project that you can create with most of the items you have already have at home. It will be a bit time-consuming, but it can easily be divided into steps. Before you begin, though, here is a list of supply suggestions that will help it go more smoothly:  

1. Wax or parchment paper  

2. Paper bag  

3. Three or four coffee filters  

4. Watercolors, food coloring, or non-toxic markers  

5. Small paint brush  

5. Glue stick  

6. Scissors  

Since the coffee filters will take a bit of time to dry, I started with them first. I used watercolors and began with the warmer shades of oranges and yellows. You can also use food coloring, regular washable markers, or even tissue paper if you have some on hand. If you are using watercolors or food coloring, it helps to dampen the section of the coffee filter you are working on first. The color will blend and spread more smoothly. However, I caution you not to get the entire thing soaked; the colors become too washed out and there is the risk of the coffee filter tearing.  

paint the tissue paper

 After the first coffee filter was done and hanging up to dry, I then moved on to the cooler tones of blues and greens.  

painted tissue paper

While I waited for the coffee filters to dry, I took a section of the paper bag without much writing on it and cut out strips about 1/2-inch wide by 8-inches long.  If your child is doing their own cutting, remember it does not have to be exact, and you can always trim them up as you go along.   

cut out strips of paper

I then cut two 6-inch x 6-inch pieces of wax paper. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect; there will be an opportunity to trim it up later.  

cut out wax paper

By this time, the coffee filters were dry. I put them together and folded them in half a couple of times and cut out several piles of squares.  

Cut out tissue paper squares

Now it was time to create my stained glass! To begin, I sorted the cut-up coffee filters into piles of similar color groups. This made it seem less chaotic to me and I was inspired by the color groups surrounding the blank wax paper. It’s also a good centering activity. While I sorted the colors, I thought about what the colors reminded me of, or represented for me. By the time I was done I couldn’t wait to get started on my creation!  

Sort the tissue paper into similar colors

With glue stick in hand, I got to work.   

Glue your tissue paper to the wax paper

After my design was complete, it was time to glue on the paper bag strips to create a frame.

Create a frame with the paper bag strips

When the frame was done, I glued the other piece of wax paper on top.

Glue on the other wax paper sheet

You may have noticed that this is looking a little untidy. Remember how I mentioned that you would be trimming it up? Well, now’s the time. Cut off all the excess wax paper and frame.  As you can see by the picture, when you’re done, it makes quite a big difference.  

Trim the edges

I know the project may not look very exciting when it’s laying on a counter or table, but just wait… when you put it in a sunny window, it looks amazing!  

Hang your project in the window

Hopefully this will brighten up your day and your home the way it did mine. Remember, the library is here to brighten your day, too! Front door service is available at all of our branches, so put some books on hold and we’ll do our best to get them to you. You can also check out JCLS Discovery, a tool designed especially for our browsers of ALL ages. Just fill out this form and we’ll send you a personally curated list of materials that are available in the library. When you receive your list, all you need to do is place holds on the items that sound good to you.

To round out this project, watch the storytime short featuring the book Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy  and Theresa Howell. 

To find other uplifting books filled with hope and laughter check out the list Uplifting Books for Children.