When I took Chemistry as a junior in high school, I had an awful teacher who basically treated us like kindergarteners. This is the one thing I learned in Chemistry - magic butterflies. (I still remember Mr. Herman placing the emphasis on the magic part, hence I to this day have absolutely no idea why this was a chemistry lab.)
I decided to try this idea out with Maddie and my niece, Annie, as we're taking them to the Butterfly Conservatory this week.This is absolutely perfect for two-year-olds and they really loved doing it. As an added treat, they're both marker crazy right now and got markers for Christmas. Score.
Here's what you do: Take a conical coffee filter and cut along the two folds on the side. Open the filter, and you should have a perfect butterfly shape.
Let the kids draw all over the filters with washable markers. They can color as much or as little as they would like.
(My niece discovered a new species of butterfly -- the H fly.)
Once they've had enough with coloring, it's time for the magic to begin.
Dip the edges of the butterfly into a bowl of water, and all the colors will run together and spread throughout the coffee filter. (Maddie is paying close attention to this step with the binoculars we made). Because these little ones don't have too much of an attention span, I ended up dipping pretty much the whole filter in the water, but older kids might like to see the water actual spread into the filter (I think this is the chemistry part that we missed courtesy of Mr. Hogwarts School of Magic).
We added little pipecleaner antenae to our butterflies and my sister-in-law and I decided that the paper towels we set them on were just as pretty! Here's Maddie's butterfly: