Coffee Filter Dancers
Updated: Jun 25
Today we are going to make graceful dancers using coffee filters and pipe cleaners. School age kiddos and adolescents will have a lot of fun with this activity! It will help them hone their fine motor skills and encourage some imaginative, creative play. These dancers also make unique Springtime decor for any room.
Large coffee filter
2 pipe cleaners, any color
Washable markers, any colors
A small elastic band
Spoon or syringe
Baking sheet or plastic tray
Lay out a coffee filter on a baking sheet or plastic tray. If you do not have either of those, try covering the surface you will be working on with a plastic bag or a plastic tablecloth. This will make cleaning up easier!
Step 1: Make sure your coffee filter is as flat as you can get it. Place the palm of your hand on top of the coffee filter to flatten out the ends. Once your coffee filter is flattened, use washable markers to color it. In order to make a cool watercolor effect, try using two to three different colors. You can draw out sections that look like slices of pie or pizza and alternate what colors you use in each section.
Tip: I would not recommend using more than three colors because they may mix together and make your coffee filter brown!
Tip: You must use washable markers, otherwise the colors will not blend together when you add water to your coffee filter.
Step 2: Using a syringe or a spoon, carefully cover the coffee filters in water. The coffee filter should start to become a smooth color as the colors from the marker blend together. When the coffee filter is completely soaked through, stop adding water. Allow the coffee filter to dry for 2 to 3 hours. If you’re feeling a little impatient, try drying it with a blow dryer on a low setting for 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 3: Next, grab one of the pipe cleaners. Bend it in half with the ends pointed downward. Squeeze the pipe cleaner together about an inch from the top to make a loop. This will be your dancer’s head!
Step 4: Then, grab the other pipe cleaner and place it behind the first pipe cleaner we looped. The positioning of the second pipe cleaner should be horizontal, or from side to side. Putting the pipe cleaners together like this should make them look like a lowercase “t.”
Step 5: To securely add the dancer’s arms, wrap the pipe cleaner that’s placed from side to side around the looped pipe cleaner. To make sure the arms are even, switch the sides you are wrapping around each time. Do this at least four times.
Tip: It’s okay if your arms still don’t come out even! Just carefully use your scissors to cut at the ends of the arms until they are even.
Step 6: Curl the ends of the looped pipe cleaner out and upward to create your dancer’s feet. Now set the pipe cleaner aside so we can make the dress!
Step 7: Fold your coffee filter in half hamburger style or horizontally. Fold the coffee filter again, but this time fold it vertically or hotdog style. The shape should be like a big slice of pizza. Fold vertically again to create a thinner pizza slice shape. Next, fold the coffee filter vertically one last time to finish with a thin triangle or pizza slice.
Step 8: Then, carefully use your scissors to cut off just the tip of the triangle. The cut should be very small, not going back more than 2 centimeters.
Step 9: Next, unfold the coffee filter until it is only folded in half and in the semicircle or half-moon shape. Carefully use your scissors to cut short slits about ¼ inch from the middle hole created earlier. Do this on each side of the hole. These will be the arms of your dancer’s dress!
Tip: An easy way to measure where you should cut is to line your pipe cleaner person’s arms up with the coffee filter. Cut where the arms intersect the folded edge of the coffee filter.
Step 10: Raise the pipe cleaner dancer’s arms up so they are over its head. Then, slide each arm through each slit you made earlier. Make sure to take your time so you do not rip the coffee filter.
Step 11: Once the arms are through the slits, gently pull the coffee filter down so it goes over the body. The head should slide right through the middle hole, but if it doesn’t, carefully squeeze the pipe cleaner together so it will fit through.
Step 12: Next, bunch the coffee filter around the upper part of the pipe cleaner so the coffee filter looks like a dress. Pinch the coffee filter where you want the waist to be. Then, with your free hand, grab your elastic and wrap it around the waist area.
Tip: It may be easier to keep the dancer’s arms up while you are doing this so you can stretch the elastic over the body.
Now your dancers are complete! Turn on some music and see what kind of cool dance moves they can do!