Art for Kids: Cosmic Suncatchers

I’m always happy to find kids crafts that my children clamor to do rather than those that require me dragging them over to the table to make; these simple Cosmic Suncatchers are one of those enticing projects! I was fooling around making them when they caught my daughter’s eye and she asked to make one.

Later that day her brother saw the suncatchers drying and immediately asked if he could make one….so I knew this kids project was a keeper. Best of all it takes two minutes to pull together and about 5 minutes to execute, excluding drying time, perfect for short attention spans and moms with newborns! Oh and did I say it uses recycled materials? An eco-friendly kids craft as well…score!

It's cosmic madness! Make these amazing suncatchers that morph over time.Click To Tweet

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Cosmic Suncatchers


Easy kids craft: Make Cosmic Suncatchers from glue and food coloring!


  • Step One Pour a generous amount of glue into one of your plastic lids and swish it around to cover the entire inner surface.
  • Step Two Have your child put one or two drops of each color of food coloring around the glue.
  • Step Three Give your child a toothpick to swirl the colors around in the glue. Stop swirling before the colors get too combined or the final result will be muddy and brown. This is an exercise in restraint!
  • Step Four Let dry. As the colors settle they will continue to expand and create a dyed psychedelic effect….I love the 60s… Depending on how much glue you used, the suncatcher will take one to three days to fully dry. You will know it’s ready when the edges start to peel off the lid.
  • Step Five When fully dry, peel the suncatcher off the lid, punch a hole through the top, add a string, and hang in a sunny spot.

Easy kids craft: Make Cosmic Suncatchers from glue and food coloring!

It’s cosmic madness! Note: These suncatchers will morph over time. The longer they sit in a sunny window and dry the more they will change. The food coloring will eventually begin to shrink as the glue hardens

Easy kids craft: Make Cosmic Suncatchers from glue and food coloring!

Cosmic Suncatchers remain one of the most popular projects on our blog and at in person events where we have tried them! They never cease to amaze children and adults with their swirling changing colors.

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      • adriana says

        hi, thanks for the inspiration!
        just wondering- how did you make the colours so blurry? is that the water colours? from the food coloring it didnt work for me.

        • Ana Dziengel says

          Hmmm the colors blurred when we left them alone in the glue, which helped to slowly dissipate the color. What happened with yours? Did you use white glue?

          • Natalie says

            would a simple flour and water homemade glue work? I live in a tiny village in the south of Grand Canary Island and I don’t have easy access to a lot of supplies. I would really like to do this with my kids’ group.

  1. Katrina says

    What kind of glue did you use that it didn’t dry clear? I kind of like the effect as it brings out the brightness of the colours!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Really great question! I kept ours in a sunny window for a couple of months and they got harder but not necessarily brittle. The interesting thing was that after about a month I noticed the colors shrank and had changed! A friend thought it might be that the colors were fading but since they still looked very vibrant just “different” than they did when we first made them I wondered if the food coloring and glue continued to react over time in the heat of the sun. I’d love to hear how everyone else’s turn out over time! It’s an ongoing science lesson!

      • Kellie says

        We made these as kids with PVA and glitter as Christmas decorations, and 20+ years later my mother still has them with all the Christmas decorations. They have yellowed a bit and lost some of the glitter but are still going strong. Not brittle more rubbery.

        Must make these again with my 2 year old.

  2. Anna says

    Now that’s a fabulous small and fast art project! My little boy loves making things with me, but he doesn’t have a particularly long attention span, so I’m always on the look out for quick and attention grabbing projects. This is perfect! Thanks Ana! One question, where do you find your big squeezy bottles of food colouring? Thanks so much again!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Anna,
      I’m glad you liked the project! I bought our food coloring at our local grocery store. If you want mega sizes of food coloring, restaurant supply stores often carry them, like Smart and Final.

  3. Julia eaves says

    Just did this with my kids who are 2,5 & 13 and they all loved it. Can’t wait for them to dry so we can hang them!

  4. Lisa Lopacinski says

    We made these but the glue curled up as it dried. Did you have that happen at all? Ours are all curled up.

  5. susan says

    We did this and they look great, however, the food colouring hasn’t dried (although the glue has). Any ideas why? I was thinking we may have to paint a coat of varnish over them to seal in the colours….I am now testing out a couple with glitter sprinkled in them to hang on the tree for Christmas!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Susan, Interesting……I did notice that after about 6 weeks of hanging in a sunny window the food coloring contracted. There must be something in the chemistry of glue/food coloring combo…..but I’m not a chemist so I’m not sure what is going on 😉 How long have yours been drying? Mine took at least a few days to full dry.

  6. says

    Did this with the kids today. Taking a bit long to dry, but they loved it! Hopefully the finished product is just as awesome as yours. Thanks!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Brianna,
      I haven’t tried it with clear glue so I’m not sure. The white glue works well as a foil for color though and dries clear 🙂
      Hope they love it!

  7. Laura says

    Does it matter if the lids have designs on them? How did you get yours all white? All of the ones I am collecting have designs on them (yogurt, margarine etc).

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Laura,
      Since the last step of the project is peeling the dried glue off the lid you can definitely use lids with designs on them. Just make sure they are flexible 🙂 I used lids from tubs of hummus, so they were all translucent. Coffee can lids also work well.

  8. Julie S says

    LOVE this idea! Thank you so much for this. We live outside Phoenix, AZ, and it’s already heating up here. Any projects we can do indoors are much appreciated. It’s going on our list for this month!

  9. Deborah Waxman says

    This reminds me of something similar that I have had kids do with a plastic plate, watercolor markers and the glue. They color on the plate, pour glue over it and let it dry. The glue absorbs the marker lines and blend them together. Different procedure but same result!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Deborah,
      Oooooo that sound VERY fun! We will have to try that one.
      Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Margot,
      Clear glue doesn’t work well because the milky look of white glue is what makes for the fun color effects. The white glue dries translucent though so light can filter through 🙂

  10. Shelley says

    I did this with my daycare kids. Obviously didn’t use enough glue as once dry, the suncatchers didn’t peel off the lids. They just stuck to the lids. These were supposed to be Mother’s Day gifts. I’ll try again and use more glue next time. Disappointing as the kids were really excited to see the finished product.

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Shelley,
      I’m sorry to hear they didn’t peel off! You do need a fair amount of glue for them to peel off. Still if you don’t want to use that much glue you can make them on clear translucent lids and skip peeling them off.

    • Ana Dziengel says

      I had them hanging in a sunny window for about 6 weeks. They never melted but the sun does continue to change and fade the suncatchers a little bit over time.

      • Eliza says

        We tried this at preschool for father’s day gifts. My trial run through took four days to dry. However, I’m really glad I had the children start early on the gifts since we had a very humid week and it took a full eight days for them to dry (and I peeled them off, rather than waiting for them to curl up from the lid)

  11. Beppie says

    i like to know why you use food color instead of ink?? Is is just because it is saver for young kids??

    Kind regards,

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Beppie,
      I like food coloring because it is so easy to find 🙂 Almost any grocery store carries it and it’s inexpensive. Inks and liquid watercolors (my favorite) do need to be purchased online or at art supply stores.

  12. tracy says

    Love this idea! Can this be done on a plastic plate? I want to do this with my daughter’s class and I am not sure we will be able to get 24 lids. Thank you!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Tracy, I’m not sure if it can be done on a plastic plate but do let me know if that works! If not can you ask parents to donate a lid or two each?

  13. says

    Hi Ana–I read from beginning to end includiny every comment. I am almost 70, and I thought this might be fun for older people too. Will try and let you know!!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Pat, Thank you! Agreed adults can have a blast with this one too! Thanks for your kind words 🙂

  14. Lauren says

    I don’t know if someone mentioned this already, but I used to do something similar as a kid with markers. You just color all over something smooth (like these lids… or the inside of a metal desk… I don’t think my teacher was too pleased with that, lol) with washable markers and then cover it with glue, wait for it to dry, and peel it off. You end up with the same effect.

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Lauren, You are the first to mention this technique so THANK YOU! We’ll try it out this weekend, on the lids, though, not a desk ;)!

  15. Leksi says

    I’m looking to do this as a Welcome Week project for college students. Is there any way to make it dry faster by chance?

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Leksi,
      I don’t know of a way to speed up the drying process other than leaving them in a sunny spot. Warm weather should probably help!

  16. says

    I teach at an international school in Bangkok and sometimes have difficulty getting some art supplies. I tried tempera paint and it was awful and bled instead of flowing. This will be so fun and I can get these supplies without challenge.
    Thank you.

  17. Kathy durham says

    On the food coloring sun catchers do you use the inside of the lid or the top love these crafts looking forward to making them with my grandchildren thanks a lot have a great day

  18. Kathy durham says

    Love the idea my grandchildren did one with the gems now with the food coloring do u use the inside of the lid or outside didn’t get a good look at the design please let me know and thanks for letting us use your designs Kathy durham

  19. Lis says

    This gave me a great idea- I am going to try a layer of glue in a plastic yogurt top, then decoupage a pretty piece of paper into it and add another layer of glue and see if that will work. I have made many suncatchers that are decoupaged so it should surely work. Thanks so much for the idea!

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Cool idea! Post pic to our FB page with the finished suncatcher! I’d love to see it 🙂

  20. Mike says

    I have 2 Questions.
    1st. Is Elmer’s glue good to use, or does it have to be a certain kind of white glue?
    2nd. Perhaps the drying time affects the chemicals in a way that causes the food coloring to contract. Would using a hair dryer work more easily, to seal in the colors, with the glue, or would that ruin the effect?
    I’m thinking of possibly trying tub and tile caulking with the food coloring as well, just to see if it works better and last longer.

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Let me know if it works out! You can use any white glue and I have no idea what a hair dryer would do.

  21. April says

    We tried these, let them dry for 4ish days before taking them out of molds…however, after doing so, they folded up like tacos after being hung up. Did yours stay flat?

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi April, They do need a lot of drying time. Yours may have been removed a little too soon. If they still have some flex in them, try putting them under a heavy book for a few days and see if they flatten back out.

  22. Mummy Q says

    Just made these with the kids. Can’t wait to see how they look when they’ve dried. Excellent activity for a range of ages.

  23. Shirley says

    I tried this with my granddaughter, but the colors just all blobbed together , so I washed the lids off and want to try again. I put a rather thick layer of glue on, enough that it would roll as I tried to cover the entire lid. About how many drops of food coloring did you use? I want to use them as a craft for our girls club at church with the teaching that we can all let God’s light shine thru us, regardless of what we look like:)! Help please.

  24. says

    These are wonderful! Thank you for sharing this! They will look lovely in our daughter play room! Once I have tried them I will link you a photo of how they turned out!

  25. Gabriela says

    If you want to add more science to this experiment, instead of using toothpicks you just add a drop of dish soap, try and see! An amazing thing happens, the detergent moves the molecules of the glue which have polar heads and non-polar tails and they carry the color around making beautiful patterns, in addition after some time they end up just like the suncatchers in your pictures, but the wow factor while kids drop the detergent is something worth it!

  26. Ericka Burrill says

    I tried to do your project but most of the glue (disappear)

    I only eneded with a little bit in the center of the plate – can you tell me what was wrong?

  27. Natalie says

    This may be a repeat. Would homemade flour and water paste work for these lovely sun-catchers? I live in a small village in the south of Grand Canary Island and don’t have easy access to a lot of supplies. I would love to make these with my kids’ group.

  28. Sharon says

    This was great. I didn’t make it through all the comments so sorry if I’m repeating here, but one thing is I used small plastic (paper) plates, and they worked great, and also mine stuck to the window! the one I made from a lid dried faster, and doesn’t stick, but we’ll see how long these last hanging up, then will use string! thanks for the great project! (would post a pic but don’t see how…)

  29. Valerie says

    I helped the kindergarten class make these to hand out to their Senior Citizen day coming up here. They dried for 5 days, peeled away fine. I trimmed the edges, and now they are curling up 🙁 Any suggestions? Thank you.

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Valerie,
      They will curl a bit. Maybe if you do it again in the future you can lay the dried ones between sheets of wax paper and a stack of books for a day or two to make sure the edges dry flat?

  30. Liz says

    Love this idea. I work with groups of 60 – 150 children ( local museum – school and family crafts) so sourcing enough lids could be a problem. Do you think this would work with dishes the children shape themselves from baking foil? And would poster paint work (as I have a cupboard full)?

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Liz, Foil “plates” might work. You could also probably go to a discount restaurant supply store and purchase some plastic lids. I know the Smart and Final near us sells them and they are pretty inexpensive. You’d have to experiment with the poster paint though. I haven’t tried it so I can’t be sure, but so let me know if you try it and it works!

  31. Maria Alejandra Cubillos Espinoza says

    Me encantó este tipo de arte para niños,mis hijos son asperger y me cuesta mantenerlos con algo de atención y el arte es algo que les encanta.

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