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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Are You 'DYE-ing' To Know?

Want to have some fun with food?
Have you been 'dye'-ing to know how to make colored macaroni, rice and/or coconut to use for school projects, crafts, centers, manipulatives and more?

Today I am going to share with you how I made all my sensory tub 'fillers' for the year so that I am ready for the school year!  You will feel much better knowing it is all done ahead of time and can then focus on planning the 'fun stuff' that goes along with it!

You may want to take notes, so here is a 'recipe' card!  
You are probably going to want to download it and print a few copies for the hop that starts TOMORROW!!!

I know for myself I always find such cute ideas but then forget where I saw them and/or where I pinned them!  So, as you 'scoop up' ideas tomorrow, take some notes and stick them in your planbook or a folder you use for planning and idea generating!  You will be happy to 'stumble upon' them during the hustle and bustle of the school year!

Tomorrow's post will tell you all about how I plan on using the macaroni, rice and coconut this year, as well as a literature connection, recipe for a yummy dinner and other delectable delights!   So be sure to stop by again to get your fill!!!

Now onto what you've been 'DYEING' to know!!
For dyeing macaroni you will need the macaroni, rubbing alcohol, gallon size ziploc bags, food coloring, sturdy paper plates and gloves (if you don't want to wind up looking like Rainbow Brite!)

Gather your material and a space to work!

I wanted to dye A LOT of macaroni that will last me all year.  I plan on using it for sensory tubs and math center manipulatives.  We also use it for fine motor skill development (lacing) so we go through a LOT!

I purchased 16 1b boxes in 8 different styles.  I like to also use it when my kids are practicing sorting for shape, size, color, etc!

I divided the macaroni (mixed types) among 6 gallon size ziploc bags:

And then added 2/3c. of rubbing alcohol to each bag

I squeezed in nearly a 1/2 bottle of food coloring into each bag- I started counting drops but lost count after 40-something!  Basically- the more you put in, the stronger/bolder your macaroni will be!

Next is to seal the bags up TIGHT!  You also may want to slip them into a second bag.  The alcohol does some funny stuff to the make-up of the plastic and as it sits it begins to deteriorate.  To avoid a muddy rainbow mess, it is best to double bag!

The color will start to seep down on its own... 

but you are going to need to really 'shake it up' to cover all the noodles!

Here are all 6 bags after they were shook!

I layed plastic garbage bags on my kitchen floor (I have learned the hard way what happens if you don't!!) and then placed the macaroni bags on the bag.  About every 30-40 min flip the bags over so that the color can be evenly distributed. 

The longer you let the macaroni sit, the stronger/bolder the colors.  They begin to 'hold color' after about an hour, but you are going to want to wait at least 5 hours for the best results (especially if your bags are really full like mine are!)  You can even let it go 24 hours, but I wouldn't go much longer than that!

Open the bag and pour the macaroni onto a really sturdy paper plate (I used Chinet)- if you can avoid spilling all the 'liquid' onto the plate that helps, but if not, it doesn't affect the macaroni- it will just take longer to dry.  The paper plate will help absorb the alcohol and speed up the drying process.  You could probably line a regular dinner plate with paper towels if you prefer a more eco-friendly method!

Continue to do so for all the bags.  It is best to allow each color to have its own plate.  The macaroni is still 'wet' and is susceptible to pulling in other colors. Once the macaroni dry it is fine to mix the colors together to make a nice rainbow mixture!

Lay all the plates out in a place where they can dry.
(as you can see I placed the plastic bags under the plates on the deck so that the dye didn't leak through)

After about an hour they are set and ready for fun!

Next up...rice!
This process is going to be very similar to the macaroni!
I purchased a 20 lb bag of rice that will last me all year!  I only dyed about 1/3 of it.  I am keeping some 'white' for winter sensory fun!
Since my red and pink came out nearly the same on the macaroni I decided to go with 5 bags rather than 6.  I poured rice into each bag

and then added about 1/2c. of rubbing alcohol to each bag and about 20 squirts of food coloring

Then I sealed up each bag

 And 'scrunched' it until the coloring was spread around

Here are my bags.  They are more a 'pastel' than the macaroni.  If you want stronger/bolder colors, add more coloring.

I added the rice bags to the piles of macaroni bags on the floor and let them sit for about 30 minutes.  

I poured the rice onto the paper plates (you don't have to use really heavy plates for this- doubled up regular plates would work, but I had bought a really large package of the Chinet ones!)
I put the plates out in the sun to dry and they were set in about an hour!

Last to dye- coconut!
This will make more sense when you see my post tomorrow!

Coconut can be bought in two ways- simple flakes or sweetened.  I could not find the regular flakes so I purchased the sweetened and made some modifications to make it work!

You DO NOT use alcohol for the coconut dyeing- just a few tablespoons of water!
Divide your coconut up into bags (I purchased 6 12oz bags to make the 5 different colors)
Add about 2T-4T of water to each bag and about 30 drops of food coloring

Seal the bags and 'scrunch' it around (looking at this picture I realized I should have taken a picture of a color other than red! It looks a bit graphic!!) 

Continue to scrunch until all the coconut is covered- it will 'lump' so make sure you really break it apart! 

I added the coconut bags to the macaroni & rice and let them sit for about 30 minutes

Then I lined cookie trays with paper towels to let it dry 

My back deck was VERY colorful that day!

The macaroni and rice dried beautifully- but the coconut was still wet and sticky!
I let it sit overnight but it still did not dry!

So the next morning I slipped the paper towels out from under the coconut and put the trays in a 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I checked on them every 5-ish minutes to make sure the coconut wasn't burning and gave it a gentle 'stir'.

It dried into a beautiful rainbow of colors that could be mixed and handled without any stickiness!
I know the kids are going to LOVE getting into this!!

Now I am presuming if you purchase the regular flakes you could avoid the baking part!

Overall time spent dyeing- about 1 hour 
Drying time- from 30 minutes to 1 day (plus oven time)
BUT... now I don't need to break out all those materials to do it mid-year!  I spent a few summer hours to help ease the burden during the year!

I created this pin for you so that you can easily find the directions for when you are ready to dye:

Tomorrow I am serving up a post that will use the macaroni, rice and coconut for learning and fun!
And I will be sharing the kitchen with some other fabulous chefs!

Until next post,
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  1. Love this! I am dying to get dyeing!! Thanks so much for sharing the great pictures. It all turned out so great!

  2. Oooh, can't wait to try this! Thanks Jennifer, you make it look so easy! :)

  3. So much fun! I love the vibrant colors!

  4. As an OT and a homeschool Mum, I love this. Thanks so much for all the detail and the great pics.

  5. Your directions give me hope that I can have an exciting sensory tub this year! Thanks for your clear instructions!


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