Coffee Filter Bats


This art activity focuses on the beloved and sometimes feared bat. These flying mammals are featured in popular stories like Stellaluna and Batman. According to Bay Nature, “Bats are generally shy, intelligent creatures that are important to our ecosystem and are of considerable benefit to humans. They are natural pest controllers, pollinators and fertilizers.” Their actions positively impact disease control, the regulation of crop damage, and help reduce the need to use pesticides.


  • Coffee filter
  • Washable markers (or watercolors)
  • Clothespin
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Spray bottle, or paintbrush
  • Plastic placemat, wax paper
  • Tiny objects around the house such as buttons, beads, googly eyes

Optional Materials

  • Ruler
  • Drink bottle top
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes
  • Gift wrap tissue
  • Paint
  • Permanent marker
  • Copy or printer paper
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaner

Parent & Child Together

Creating Bat Wings

  1. Lay the basket coffee filter paper on a table and flatten it out. Point out that this shape is called a circle, or ask your child to name the shape. Help your child fold the basket coffee filter in half, evening up the edges. Name this a semi circle, and point out that there are now two halves. Fold the semi circle in half again. Now, there are four same-sized shapes called quarters. Understanding this is the beginning of understanding fractions!
  2. Help your child to draw half circles on the rounded edge of the coffee filter. You can use a small plastic water bottle top to trace the half circles. Ask your child, “What is the name of this shape?” (semi circle).
  3. Using safety scissors, cut along the half circle lines to make a scalloped edge (preschool aged or older).
  4. Open up the filter paper to its full circle shape. Using the washable markers, have your child draw on the coffee filter. We used purple, black and pink for our colors but we encourage you to let your child use the colors that they choose to color the bat.
  5. Set up an easy-to-wipe surface, such as a plastic placemat, or wax paper. Here is where you or your child will dampen your coffee filter.
  6. Fill your spray bottle halfway with water or fill a small cup halfway with water.
  7. Place your colored coffee filter on the placemat (or wax paper).
  8. Have your child spray or squeeze water drops on to the coffee filter. One can also dip a paintbrush into the water and dab the coffee filter with the wet brush. Ask your child what they see happening to the colors. If you used washable markers, the colors should bleed.
  9. Take your wet coffee filter and place it somewhere to dry.  If it is in the sun outdoors, it should take less than 20 minutes to dry. If it is indoors, in a dry, warm setting it should take about 45 minutes or less.


Creating the Body & Assembling your Bat

  1. The clothespin will become the body of the bat. Have your child color it with a black marker. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to dry. (Substitution: You can also use paint the clothespin)
  2. Once the clothespin is dry, use small items you have found around the house for the eyes and to decorate the bat’s body. If you would like to add ears, you can cut out a small piece of dark paper into small triangle shapes).  Glue the eyes, ears, and any decorations on to the top of the clothespin. After you have glued on the small objects, wait a few minutes for the glue to dry before attaching it to the coffee filter wings.
  3. (Optional) If you have a pipe cleaner, you can insert it inside the folded filter paper along the straight edge. This will support the bat wings.
  4. Fold the now dry coffee filter in half, and from the middle of the scalloped edge, cut a slit towards the flat side, but not all the way to the other side (approximately a 3″ cut). This will allow you to clip the clothespin/bat body through the slit, putting the head of the bat body just sticking over the straight edge.

Other Options and Substitutions

If your family does not have a basket coffee filter, you can use a cone filter, tissue paper, or copy paper.  If you don’t have a clothespin, you can use a pipe cleaner or a twist tie for the body and head of the bat. Your child can also add other decorations to the bat including feathers, stickers, stamps, “fangs,” little bat hands at the end of the wings / attached to the pipe cleaner.

Further Discovery

Consider reading books together such as Bat Loves the Night and National Geographic Readers: Bats.

Look for bats in your neighborhood or local park. Here’s a bat that we spotted sleeping at a local park. While they are quite common in the Bay Area, they can go unnoticed because they’re mostly active at sunset. You and your child may be able to spot some of them near lakes, rivers or streams or in wooded parks such as Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, Tilden Park, Black Diamond Regional Preserve, Lake Del Valle, and Sunol Regional Wilderness.