This morning was rainy and gray. The kind of morning you stay in your comfy clothes, turn up the Shins channel on your Apple radio, and smile when the oh-so-cliche yet awesomely nostalgic tunes of the Postal Service and Sufjan Stevens come on next. The perfect kind of morning for a colorful art project with the kids and the big, beautiful mess that comes with it.
Our little girl is just reaching the age appropriate for learning the names of colors and our boy is fascinated by all things color-mixing. This project has elements for them both. I made similar bottles for our son a couple of years ago (using found objects and knick-knacks sorted by color in bottles) and they were a hit. A big one! So when I recently stumbled upon the pinterest crafting trend of creating a “nebula in a jar” (I’m sorry, though… what exactly is a Nebula? I digress), I immediately knew I wanted to create something similar with the whole color spectrum for my two tots. These galactic color bottles are easy to make with materials you probably already have at home, and the finished product is quite whimsical.
Before getting started, you’ll want to assemble…
- Six clear plastic bottles.
- Red, yellow, and blue food colorings (if you’ve got the secondary colors lying around, too, great. If not, just mix ’em on up!)
- Glitter. Lots and lots of glitter. For bonus points, grab some sequins, jewels, and gems as well.
- 1 big bag of cotton balls.
- 1 pitcher of water.
- A handful of wooden skewers.
- 1 tube of super glue.
Any plastic containers will do, but I do love these Voss brand water bottles. I think they are more aesthetically pleasing than most water bottles and their labels are clear and easily pealed off. You guys, I am NOT all about fussing with paper white labels that need soaking to remove. After prepping your bottles, do yourself a big favor and cover your table with something disposable like craft paper or a throw-away table cloth. You can thank me for that tip later. You’ll also want to go ahead and fill up 6 glasses with water and add food colors to create one glass of each red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
Ready for the fun part? Begin by pulling apart your cotton balls (did you know they unravel into long cotton strips? I sure didn’t), and giving them a good bath in your colored water glasses. While they soak, pour a generous helping of glitter into the bottom of each bottle. Next, add the newly dyed cotton strips to each bottle, using your wooden skewers to pack the cotton down.
This is a great job for a toddler, if you happen to have one handy.
Continue to layer dyed cotton, glitter, white cotton strips, and water. There is really no method to this madness so just go with what feels right. To add a bit of interest, consider throwing in small cotton pieces dyed with an adjacent color from the color spectrum. If you’re working on the blue bottle, how about adding a small piece of green or purple cotton. Bored with your orange bottle? Throw in a touch of yellow or red. This not only makes the finished product more visually interesting, but also adds a great teaching element for children exploring the properties of color mixing. Double win.
Once your bottles are completely full, dry the tops and get out the super glue. Be a bit heavy handed with this step, just to be sure curious little fingers don’t accidentally twist of a top when exploring their masterpieces later.
While I’m loving this idea of creating a color spectrum set with all six colors, these would also serve as great party favors for several common kids’ party themes. Hosting an outer space themed party? Go with blues, greens, purples, and a touch of black. Or how about the ever-so-current unicorn or mermaid themed party. Go crazy with pinks, purples, blues, and turquoise! Add a coordinating ribbon or two to the top and voila… instant favor – no dollar store trinkets necessary.
I hope you’ll give this rainy day project a go, and let me know what you think in the comments below. The beauty is in its simplicity and in the wonder on your tiniest one’s sweet face when she explores the new bottles for the first time.
For more fun family ideas from the Hansen House, click here.