Chromatography Earth Day Crafts

Earth Day is the perfect opportunity for all of us to stop and take a look around at the amazing planet we get to live on.  To appreciate all that the earth has to offer to us and to ask how we can help make the earth a better and healthier planet for all of us.  Whether we do some Earth day activities or these gorgeous Earth Day Crafts with Chromatography, we should find ways to honor, celebrate and cherish the earth.  This Earth Day project offers some art inspiration and a chance to learn some science while we do it.  

Earth Day Crafts & Chromatography Science!

Chromatography Earth Day Craft

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In this amazing Earth Day STEM project, we are going to use coffee filters to demonstrate Chromatography and how we can observe it in action, and then we will recycle that experiment into some earth day crafts! 

What is Chromatography?

Let’s start with the STEM side of this project. Chromatography is a really cool process where you can look at the components of a mixture as they are separated from each other by passing them through another substance. In our case, we are going to look at how different dyes can make up a single marker color by coloring on a coffee filter and then adding water to the filter. 

When working on a chromatography lesson I like to ask the kids questions to help foster the development of their analytical and critical thinking stills. Some questions to ask:

  • What colors do you think might make up other colors?  
  • What do we know about color mixing? For example, if we know that blue and yellow are primary colors and when mixed together they make green, can we expect to see these colors in a green marker?  
  • How about brown or black?
  • What colors do you think might make up these colors?  
  • What is the difference between Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colors?
  • How do you think the type of color might affect the results?

Have everyone write down their predictions for what they think they will see.  

Fun Earth Day Crafts with Chromatography

Let’s start by learning how to do a Chromatography science experiment for kids. This easy experiment is a great project to do in the classroom or at home.


Non-Permanent Markers
Coffee Filters (Basket Style)
Small Glasses of Water
Spray Bottle of Water
Paper Towels or paper to protect your work surface



Using water-based markers, draw lines or patterns on a coffee filter.  I have found that drawing a thick line traced around the circle on the bottom of the coffee filter will give you a really nice result.  


Fold the Coffee Filter in half and then in half the other way and then again so you end up with something resembling a triangle. 


Put the pointed end into the glass of water (you don’t need very much – just enough to get the tip wet.  The water will do the rest of the work.  

Chromatography Science for Kids

Observe.  What do you notice happening as the paper gets wet and the water travels through the marker? As the water moves through the paper it will take part of the mixture with it and spread those parts through the rest of the paper. 


Once the water has made its way through the coffee filter, carefully remove it from the glass and spread it out on a towel or piece of paper.  Now, what do you see?  Depending on the color you chose you may see very little separation but more bleeding of the same color from the ring to the edge.  Some you will see a lot of colors that came from one marker.  Check your results against your predictions – how did your predictions stand up? 

The Chromatography Science Lesson

What can we learn?  Seeing how the colors separate in this experiment can tell us a couple of things.  How many colors make up a certain other color and how soluble certain pigments are, the more soluble that pigment the farther it will travel when wet so you can tell the most soluble colors by looking for what ended up outermost on your ring.

Paper chromatography designs

This is a really engaging science activity for the kids

Now that we’ve explored some cool paper chromatography science, let’s talk about how we can use these cool creations to make Earth Day crafts! 

When you are finished with your coffee filter paper crafts, they can be placed in your recycling bin or compost. 

Chromatography Flowers

This is a fun craft creating a colourful bouquet of flowers.

Making pretty coffee filter flowers is actually super simple to do in just a few steps. 

Chromatography Flower Bouquet


Colored Coffee Filters (we are recycling the ones we used for the chromatography experiment)
Sticks or Pipe Cleaners if you choose for stems. 



Do the chromatography science experiment using beautiful flower colors. Dry your coffee filters.  


Fold your coffee filter in half and then roll one side loosely toward the other side. When rolled use a piece of tape on the edge to hold it closed. I also like to gather the layers of paper toward the center to fill it in. 

Close up of Chromatography Flower

If you want a stem you can use another piece of tape to secure the stem to the base of the flower.  I decided to just put the buds into a little party favor bag I had leftover. They look so pretty and fresh!  This could make a great Mother’s day craft idea as well. 

Need more challenge? Check out Circuit Flowers with Chromatography, which is a great option for older or more advanced students.

Chromatography Butterflies

This is fun to do with very little hands because all they really need to do is scrunch it up.

First, make your Chromatography papers using whatever beautiful butterfly colors your students prefer.

Let them dry completely.

Scrunch your colored coffee filters so that they can be pinched in the middle and you will see wings form on each side. 

Secure a plain clothespin at the pinched center of the filter! Then form your wings a little bit. 

That’s all there is to it! 

Paper Chromatography Earth Craft

To make your Earth crafts, start by using blue and green markers. Blue is for the oceans, so make sure you use lots of blue! And the green is for land. Colour your coffee filters with loose, squiggly lines to represent the planet. 

Then the same as our other crafts, fold and place in a glass with a bit of water in the bottom. 

Watch for your beautiful Blue-Green Earth to be revealed! 

For a classroom project or school-aged group make posters celebrating Earth Day using coffee filter Earth Chromatography to create 3-D art.  

For this simple poster, stack several coffee filters on top of each other with a dot of glue so they stand up and off the paper a bit.  I love the way the coffee filter earth turned out – very vibrant and watercolory.

SIDE NOTE: There was an interesting secondary observation we made.  When we laid the coffee filters out to dry on paper towels the patterns transferred onto the paper towels. Leaving cool designs.

Whatever you choose to make I hope that you have an amazing earth day – now get out there and soak up all that this beautiful planet has to offer. 

Happy Earth Day!

Chromatography Earth Day Craft

More Earth Day Activities for Kids

Seed Bombs and Launcher DIY STEM Activity for Kids
Layers of the Earth DIY Soap Project so kids can learn about our Earth in a sustainable way
Earth Day Activities For Kids in Elementary and Middle School