Preschool

How to dye seashells with colour theory science

One of my aim with my preschooler is to work on colour knowledge, both the recognition of colours as well as colour theory/science. After the success of my egg shell dyeing before Easter I decided to combine some colour science and some dyeing again but this time with some seashells.

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

Working on naming the primary colours as well as colour mixing we used the dyeing of the sea shells to investigate this at home with some simple science and crafty fun.

Materials needed for How to dye seashells

Food Colouring in Primary colours and black
Water
Shells
Vinegar
Tooth Picks
Small Glass Bowls

How to dye Seashells with colour theory

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

A search for how to dye sea shells brought up this post about it from The Educators’ Spin On It using Easter Egg Dyeing Kits, which we don’t have in the UK but with knowledge of sea shells being made from calcium and chemical reactions with acids I put together some vinegar and water mix which would react slightly with the shells but not erode them completely and allow the food colouring to be absorbed into the shells.

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

With 7 small glass bowls we mixed in some water and vinegar (around a 1:4 mix is what worked the best) and added black food dye to one bowl then in 3 other bowls added the 3 primary colours – a red, a blue and a yellow. They were easiest to stir with a tooth pick.

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

The 3 primary colours were quickly identified and then we moved onto colour mixing to discover new colours – pouring in a tiny amount of each colour T mixed them together – as they blended we took time to discuss the 3 colours (with slow stirring with the tooth pick we were able to see all 3 colours at once).

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

With all of the colours made – black, red, blue, yellow, orange, green and purple we then added 6 shells to each pot and T stirred them in the mixes with a tooth pick.

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

Leaving the shells in the bowls for 10 minutes whilst we went off and cleaned up a bit (dyeing shells gets quite messy especially when using food colourings). We then removed them and laid them out on a paper towel to dry.

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

The shells have produced a really pretty pastel effect on them – we also tried dyeing with the same method we used for the egg shells and the red produced a deep colour but all of the other colours we still pastel coloured.

How to dye sea shells with colour theory

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