Add a little color and a lot of fun to your child's favorite breakfast food: eggs! By using natural dyes found in onion skins, your child can create an amazing display of colorful eggs. And while you're at it, why not create add a few fun designs to the mix? Perfect for Easter or any time of the year, this activity teaches kids about the natural dyes found all around them.
What You Do:
- Place the hard skins from the red and yellow onion into separate sauce pans. Fill each pan with about three inches of water or enough to cover the eggs once they are added. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the onion skins for about five minutes. Remove the pans from the heat and let the water sit overnight. The water will become your dye.
- Help your child cut several pieces of panty hose about six inches square.
- Have him choose leaves and flowers to make a print on the eggs. Once he's collected a few, have him dip the leaves and flowers in water and wrap them around the eggs. Next, wrap the panty hose around the eggs to hold the leaves in place. Use a twist tie to keep the pantyhose around the eggs.
- Because the onion skins have steeped overnight, their natural colors have created a dye. Remove the skins from the pans and place half your eggs in one dye and half in the other.
- Put the pans on the stove and bring them almost to a boil. Quickly reduce heat and let the eggs simmer for 30 minutes. Don't let them boil because it will cause them to bang around and possibly break.
- Remove the pans from the heat and let the eggs cool. Unwrap the eggs and dry them off. What you'll find is naturally dyed eggs. The yellow onion dye should create yellow- or gold-colored eggs. The red onion dye should create pink- or red-colored eggs.
To add some learning to the mix, have your child think about why and how the process worked. Why didn't the dye color the whole egg? Which dyes were stronger or darker, and why? Experiment with adding more onion skins to create a darker dye, or steep other naturally colorful plants and fruits like marigolds, beets, kale or red cabbage. What plants do your child think might create a good dye?