Sweet Pea is 6 years old.
From: Play Silks are a type of beautiful toy commonly used in Waldorf education. You can buy them pre-dyed, but at almost $15 each, it is very expensive to get more than a few colors. There are a zillion blog posts about how to dye play silks, but I found this awesome and mostly child friendly method at Rachael Rabbit.
- 3 packets of Kool-Aid (We used Pink Lemonade to make the pink play silk in the picture above.)
- Undyed Silks (I bought 35 x35 inch silks from Dharma Trading Company, which are about $5 each depending on how many you buy. Smaller ones are much cheaper, but I think the larger ones are best.)
- Large Bowl
- Measuring cup.
- Hot tap water
- Pot Holders.
- Washing machine, dryer and an iron. (Optional)
- Bib or Smock for your tot.
- If your tot is helping you dye the silk, you should either go outside or make sure that anything near your work area is covered. Remember that the point of this activity is to DYE something. Anything that comes in contact with the Kool-Aid will be DYED cherry red or berry blue or slammin’ strawberry, etc…
- Unfold the silk.
- Add about 2.5 cups of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar to the large bowl. Add the silk and let your tot stir it around a little bit with the tongs.
- Pour the vinegar water mixture down the sink and wring out the silk.
- Add 2 .5 cups of hot tap water, plus 1/4 cup of vinegar to the bowl and then pour in 3 packets of Kool-Aid.
- Show your tot how to stir the water very gently until all of the powder has dissolved.
- Let your tot gently lower the silk into the colored water.
- Pick up the silk a couple of times and rearrange it so that all parts get evenly covered by the dye.
- Demonstrate how to slowly stir the silk around in the water with the tongs. You may need to turn the silk over to make sure all parts spend an equal amount of time in the dye.
- Let your tot continue stirring the silk for a few minutes until most of the dye has been sucked up out of the water. (See how all of the red color has been removed from the water in the picture below? I was fascinated by how the dye leaves the water and gets absorbed into the silk!)
- This next part should be done by an adult because the bowl & water can get very hot: Microwave the play silk for 2 minutes, stir and then let rest for 2 minutes. Repeat by microwaving for another 2 minutes, stirring and then letting the silk rest again for 2 more minutes. After the play silk has rested the second time, use pot holders to carefully carry the hot bowl to the sink and start running cold water into it.
- Rinse the silk for a couple of minutes under cold water, let your tot move it around until the water runs mostly clear.
- Wring the water out of the playsilk.
- Wash on the delicate cycle in your washing machine and then dry on hot.
- If you want perfection, iron the silk until it is smooth.
Observations: Dyeing the silks was interesting, but Sweet Pea enjoyed playing with them even more. She couldn’t wait for the first silk to finish drying, and was so excited to finally be able to play with it. She loved dancing with it, twirling and throwing it in the air.
The play silks have been a big hit in the dress up department as well. 🙂
If you are outside and don’t care about the mess, then dyeing the Play Silks would probably work for preschoolers and up. Inside the house, I would only do this with an older child. However, even if the entire dyeing process is done by an adult, these play silks are wonderful toys and would make a fantastic homemade gift.
Notes from the Trenches:
- We encountered a small problem with our first play silk because I was unprepared for how fast the dye would get absorbed by the silk. I just dropped the silk into the dye and let Sweet Pea stir it for a couple of minutes. Unfortunately the center ended up being quite a bit paler and slight mottled because the fabric was wadded up and not exposed to as much dye. I should have lifted the whole thing out of the dye a few times and moved it around before letting Sweet Pea stir it.
- If you want to get creative, see this chart for guidance about which colors can be created by combining different flavors.
- Do not wash multiple colors of play silks together in the washing machine. I have read that the colors will bleed onto each other.
- Pouring the dye water (or even worse, allowing your tot to pour it) over the silk will result in a gigantic mess when the dyes-everything-it-touches-liquid comes sloshing over the side. Pour the Kool-Aid powder into the vinegar water first, stir gently, and then carefully add the silk.
Rating: 2 Stars * (Fun, Easy – But can be messy!)
Link Ups: This post is linked up to It’s Playtime! @ Kid’s Activities Blog.