Working with Kids
Making tie dye with kids
Kids love working with color. It stimulates their minds and provides a constructive creative outlet. And they can take pride in having made it themselves - every time they wear it!
Tie-dyeing is a great group project for education, making team uniforms, or just for fun. Parents win too, because bright colors make children visible wherever they go.
Whether you're planning on tie-dyeing with your own children or as an activity at school, camp, or a birthday party - there are a number of things you'll want to keep in mind.
Young children shouldn't be burdened with mixing solutions, and it is up to the adults to set up and guide them through the process. More mature kids will easily comprehend and perform every step in the process by watching the "how to" videos or by following along with someone who has.
T-shirts usually cost more than the dye and other materials. If you're throwing a party, you might just ask that kids bring their own white cotton t-shirts (no polyester).
Make sure to let parents know what they need to provide well ahead of time. It's a good idea to have a few extra shirts on hand "just in case", and so you can use up any leftover dye.
Some children will want to do lots of planning and ask many questions during each phase of the process, while other children will simply want to get started working and do everything their own way.
Be supportive of different learning styles, and provide each child with as much information as they want while giving them as much creative freedom as you can.
Just insist on some basic ground rules - the process involves folding and tying the project, soaking it in soda ash solution, and applying the dye colors IN THAT ORDER. And, soda ash solution is NOT to be mixed with dye. Many children will want to defy these basic conventions in the course of their exploration, so it's a good idea to help them understand the importance of keeping each step separate and avoiding cross contamination.
When working with groups of children, remember that you may need to coach them on the importance of sharing and being respectful of one another. It's easiest to work outside where it won't matter when things get spilled or when dye ends up on someone's shoes.
If possible, use separate areas for folding, mixing and dyeing. Otherwise, you'll want to make sure all of the folding and tying is finished before you break out the dye. Have the kids complete each phase in small groups to make things more manageable.
Label individual shirts so they don't get mixed up. Use a sheet of plastic cut it into small pieces. Write names on each piece with indelible marker, punch a holes in them, and attach one to each shirt tag using a loop of string. Plastic labels from a label maker work great too.
When time is a factor, mix the soda ash and dye solutions ahead of time. Store mixed dyes in a cooler on ice or in a refrigerator so they don't lose strength.
Rubber bands are handy for keeping disposable gloves on small hands. If hands do get stained with dye, and this will happen to some, the stains will disappear within a day or two.
Perform the dye application phase over plastic storage bins to catch excess dye. Shallow cardboard boxes lined with plastic bags make a good low-cost alternative. Or just cover a plastic table with LOTS of newspaper to absorb excess dye.
Dyed items can be wrapped in a sheet or two of newspaper and placed in plastic bags while they react overnight. If the kids are going to take their creations home before they're washed out, you'll need plenty of plastic bags to send projects home in. It's also a good idea to send home printed washout directions so parents will know what to do with their child's masterpiece.
Alternately, you can elect to microwave the projects as detailed in our "how to" videos and wash them all out together.
If you have an old microwave available this is the way to go because everyone gets to see their finished creations almost right away, and there's nothing messy to transport home.
Groups that tie-dye together should also consider setting aside a later time for the kids to get together and show off the shirts or other items they've made.
Teams that make tie dye uniforms get to do this at every game!
When you understand how to tie-dye using a simple proven system, you can lead the way to a fun and rewarding experience.
Learn more about making tie dye here.