Sanity Savers: Tie Dye Snail Shell

sponsored by: M&T Bank

Written by: Will Kawalec
Lead Play to Learn Facilitator


Coffee filters
Water dripper (or empty food coloring bottle or spray bottle)
Googly eyes (optional) 

Sanity Savers: Tie Dye Snail Shell


Set up: 2 Minutes
Activity 5-25 Minutes  

Academic Subject(s):

Art This lesson supports Pre-K – 2nd Grade Arts Curriculum:
This lesson supports areas of Elementary Education and elements of Pre-K.

All of those adorable art projects your little one comes home from preschool are great examples of learning through play and hands on exploration to gain knowledge of the world. This Tie Dye snail shell is a great opportunity to practice fine motor development, explore color mixing and understand the science concept of diffusion.  


Step 1: Trace the coffee filter on your construction paper so you know what size to make your snail. You will use the construction paper again in Step 4.
Step 2: Have child dot the coffee filter with the marker, the filter should not be shaded completely.
Step 3: The child can now drip the water or pour from a very small glass onto the filter, the colors should combine making a tie-dye effect. Move off to the side to dry – drying time will be dependent on how much water you used during this step.  
Carefully squeezing the dropper bottle is great fine motor practice for your little one. I recommend doing this step on a tray with paper towel underneath so you can have a quicker clean up and easily move the coffee filter to dry. *If you do not have a dropper or spray bottle of any kind you can also sprinkle water on the coffee filter carefully with your finger tips.

Step 4: Bring out the construction paper with the traced circle from Step 1. Draw another circle around the traced circle, about 1 inch larger. Add in a neck and head for the snail.
Step 5: Cut out the larger circle and the head/neck of the snail in one piece.
Step 6: Have your adult help you carefully poke a hole in the center of the smaller circle. Once the whole is poked you can use this to help you cut out this smaller, interior circle.
Step 7: Have the child glue or tape their now dried coffee filter, to the snail body (the filter will be the shell). If you do not want to see your tracing lines, once the coffee filter is attached, flip it over and decorate the head on the other side.
Step 8: Attach or hang the snail to a window to see light reflect through the filter.  

Vocabulary Words

Mollusk: Animals that are invertebrates (have no spine) but often have a shell.  These animals usually live in wet or damp habitats.  Snails, slugs, mussels, and octopus. 
Slime: In the case of snails, they use slime to move around it helps them both slide and stick to objects, as well as it keeps their body moist. 
Diffusion: The state of being spread out. For this art project, diffusion occurs when the liquid of the marker ink mixes with the water to spread out across the coffee filter. 

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!

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