Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kool - Aid Dyeing with Children

This week brings us one of the children's favorite things to do! Kool - Aid Dyeing..............
Not only is the smell of the Kool - Aid a delight to the nostrils, but children seem to love the idea that they can have so much impact on something; They can alter the appearance of a piece of yarn with a brush and  bit of Kool - Aid. How great is that!

Instructions for Kool - Aid dyeing are all over the net and understandibly so. It is an effective, NON TOXIC way to change the color of protein fibers and readily available. In fact, it's the only non toxic one that I know of, but I also have not researched it. If there's another I would like to know of it!

I included this project in all of my classes for ages 5 through 7. The youngest, a group of 5 year olds kept focused for the whole hour with few interuptions. I know this means they were enjoying their project! As usual, it took some children longer to complete their dyeing than others but this comes from several observations. Some are particular. Though their skills may not necessarily match their ability, they take their time and are following directions carefully. They are not into quantity but are looking for quality in their work. Others are inspired to complete as much work as possible in the given time. They are competitive and want to show the others that they are fast and have produced more. Sometimes they are messy, but some find a way to be fast and neat at the same time. One child did this by dyeing three out of four yarns one solid color. The first one was rainbow dyed, changing colors every few inches. This takes more time. I will never know for sure if this child chose to paint one color instead of multi colors for speed but the competitive behavior and comments that were made after, leads me to believe that they were interested in being first and found a way to do that. Fascinating to me!
One little one commented that they thought it was going to be boring but that in fact it wasn't at all and that they were enjoying the process! Pretty big idea for a 5 yr old! The 5 - 7 yr olds were diligent and productive with lots of yarns painted. Of course this age group seems to always be looking to take their projects home. To their dismay, this wasn't allowed because next week we will do circle weaving and the children will use their dyed yarns in that project. Once the item leaves the classroom, it never comes back! So no matter how tempted I am to please them by letting them bring them home with a promise to return them, I know better :-)

One of our adult fiber enthusiasts was renovating her kitchen and donated her old microwave to our classroom to be used for both dyeing and wet felting. I use the microwave to re-heat my felting projects since water in Bermuda is a precious commodity. No need to pour the cold water down the drain when I can effectively re-heat it, project and all! Not too much though. Just enough to warm it up again.

I was able to experiment with setting the dye in a microwave right in the classroom this time and the children were quite impressed with that idea. I used to have to hold these calsses in the HUB, our kitchen space at the school, so that I could set up a steam bath on the stove. Of course there's no concern for toxicity with these dyes but I have labeled the oven that it can no longer be used for food because I intend to use it for chemical dyes as well. I try to always be passing on tid bits of info to the children. I know that their attention spans and capacity to absorb is sometimes limited, but you never know what might stick so I explained that we could never use our classroom microwave for food again because some dyes are toxic and would make the microwave unsafe for food anymore. I told them that Kool - Aid dyes could be set in the home microwave because that is safe for us to drink, so is also safe to put in the microwave, even at home.

So, the older group will be dyeing in today's class. More to come on that one later..........

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