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Pysanky Eggs

Fifth Grade Easter Activities: Pysanky Eggs

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Pysanky eggs (pronounced peh-SAN-keh) are intricately decorated Easter eggs originally made in Ukraine. The folk patterns employed symbols and colors which gave special meaning to each design.  Pysanky eggs were traditionally only made for Easter they're thought to bring good luck and protection the whole year through.

This egg-decorating activity provides the ideal setting for discussions about the power of symbols, and how culture and time can change the meaning of symbols. Don't let the calendar limit this craft. With a little creativity you can design Pysanky eggs during any season or holiday.

What You Need:

  • Eggs—not boiled, at room temperature
  • Pin or paper clip
  • Egg cartons
  • Short candle
  • Medicine syringe (optional)
  • Powdered dyes from an art store or from pysanky kits, or you may use Easter egg dye kits (you can make these from food coloring, just follow the recipe on the box)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Kistka tool: take a pencil with an eraser and push a small nail into the eraser – this will make a tool to draw the wax onto your egg

What You Do:

  1. Make sure your eggs are room temperature.
  2. Use a pin to poke a hole in the top and bottom of the egg. Then poke the yoke and swish the egg around to break it up.
  3. If you have a medicine syringe, fill it with water and squirt it into the egg. This action will force the egg out of the shell. If you don't have a syringe, place a straw over the top hole and blow into the egg until all of the contents are removed. Rinse the egg with warm water. Then, place it into the microwave for 20 seconds.
  4. Ask your child to put a dab of glue over the holes so the dye won't go into the eggs. Let dry. Be sure not to smear the glue around the egg because the dye will not adhere anywhere that glue has been.
  5. Prepare the powdered dyes as per their directions. They will last for many years if kept in a sealed jar. If you're using Easter egg dye, prepare as directed.
  6. Taking over duties, light the candle (keep sleeves and long hair away from the flame) and warm the nail of the kistka.
  7. Have your child dip the nail head into the melted wax and quickly draw onto the egg to make a pattern. Re-dip the kistka as needed.
  8. Encourage your child to lower the egg carefully into the yellow dye. Let it soak for 5 minutes and then remove it to dry. Continue to apply wax to yellow areas in new patterns.
  9. Dye your egg orange, once again letting it soak for 5 minutes. Use the same method to dye it red, blue and black.
  10. When your egg is dry after the last color, have your child hold it next to the flame until the wax is melted and then help her gently rub the wax off with a rag. Continue until you have removed all the wax. You now have a finished Pysanky egg.

Many Pysanky artists use natural dyes that originated as closely guarded family secrets. If you want, you can experiment with beet juice, boiled onion skins or whatever else you can think of to see what effect they create. Perhaps your child might be inspired to develop her own family dye recipe!

Updated on Apr 7, 2014
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Find a printable workbook to go along with this fun activity. See Workbooks
See more activities in: Fifth Grade, Easter
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