We love it when an activity can combine both art and science. This simple coffee filter activity was a hit with R (age 3) and required very little set up. It is low on mess too!

Experimenting with absorption of different mediums, a science and art activity for preschoolers


For this coffee filter absorption science / art activity you will need:

  • Pack of coffee filters (any shape will do… I would recommend round but for some reason I had bought this weird shape)
  • Empty spray bottle, to be filled with water
  • A variety of mark making materials preferably some that will absorb water well like felt tips, water colours, and food colouring, as well as some others to contrast (like regular children’s paint, or chalk)

First, R coloured with each material onto a coffee filter

IMG_2708And then sprayed with water to see the change in his design.

IMG_2714Using the the water spray bottle is good for developing hand strength (needed for early hand writing skills) and is also always really appealing to my kids. They love the chance to use something different, and something that’s typically used by grown ups.

These are some of the materials we experimented with, and how they looked after being sprayed with the water. You can see that the colour runs more on the materials that absorb more water.

Felt tips





Liquid watercolours



Liquid food colouring



Gel food colouring

in contrast, this did not really absorb at all!



Children’s poster paint

This also did not absorb much at all.



Gather whatever art materials you have, and experiment with them with coffee filters and a water spray bottle. It’s lots of fun for preschoolers to see the cause and effect of the water, and to start coming to some basic conclusions about absorption.

For more science activities, follow our STEM board on Pinterest, or check out these posts:

Follow Anna – In The Playroom’s board STEM : Science Technology Math and Engineering for Kids on Pinterest.

And don’t forget to pin this activity for later

exploring absorption science process art activity for preschoolers