Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cotton Ball Coloration: Preschool Kids Crafts Project #60

Cotton Ball Coloration
Kid Preschool Crafts for all abilities!   
for Ages 3 Years and Up
(with adult supervision and assistance only!)    
Cotton Ball Coloration Success - 3rd time is a charm!

Supplies Needed:
  • Cotton Balls
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Sealable Plastic Sandwich Bags - 1 for each color. We did red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
  • Food Coloring (gel)
  • Scotch Tape
Time Needed:  
  • 3-5 Minutes per color plus drying time
First, I'll admit that lately I've tried unsuccessfully to figure out how to do this several other ways. 
  • FAIL 1: Put water with food coloring into a spray bottle and then spray the cotton balls on the project. Problem:  Everything gets soaked and doesn't dry very well. You can't used paper products because they get all crinkled up after they dry and to get enough color on the cotton balls you have to soak them. They get very small AND very wet.
  • FAIL 2: AHA I thought! I will put the cotton into bowls and spray to my heart's content with the colored water and then let the cotton dry out. Well, 2 days later I still have soaking wet cotton - and I even used a hair dryer on them! Maybe it's not a complete FAIL but frankly I can't wait 3 or 4 (or however many) days to do a craft. I'm just not that patient!
  • SUCCESS! I remember when I made the painted macaroni that some of you told me that other people had done it too (you think you're inventing the wheel...) but they used rubbing alcohol and food coloring! If it worked for macaroni (and rice, btw) why not cotton balls? Well, it did work! Ta da...
What To Do:
  1. Pull apart 10 cotton balls so that they're wispy.
  2. Place about 10 drops of food coloring gel in a plastic sandwich bag.
  3. ADULT ONLY: Add 1 capful of rubbing alcohol to the bag as well.
  4. Put the wispy cotton balls in the bag.
  5. Flatten bag to let out most of the air and seal.
  6. Tape bag closed.
  7. Massage and roll the bag in your hands for about 2 minutes or until the coloring is applied to all of your cotton balls.
    Rubbing Alcohol? Check. Food Coloring? Check. Cotton? Check. Seal and tape the bag!
    Continue massaging the bag until no more liquid shows
    through the bag and no ultra-dark spots are on a cotton piece.
  8. ADULT ONLY: Open bag and allow cotton to air dry in the bag.
  9. Repeat steps 1 thru 8 for each color.
    HINT: Mix red and blue to make purple - Mix red and yellow to make orange. Your food coloring box will also give you a host of other color combinations!
    Making Purple!
    Making Orange!
  10. You're done! I bet you've thought of lots of exciting things to do with these! I know I have. I hope you make them right away because we're about to showcase a whole bunch of ideas featuring our colored cotton balls!
  11. Don't Forget to Take a photo and share it with us! You are automatically entered into our WEEKLY GIVEAWAY on our Facebook Page when you post a photo of your finished project and "Like" Us ! Giveaway is randomly selected.

Why We Love Crafts for Kids:
Art develops creative thinking, provides means of communication and self expression, increases self understanding, strengthens self concepts and confidence, serves as an emotional release, provides decision-making opportunities, develops appreciation for the individuality of others, aids physical coordination, develops work habits and a sense of responsibility, heightens aesthetic awareness and sensitivity, and generates joy!
For Children with Special Needs: 
Assist your child as much as needed - but allow it to be his project.  Art projects are great for fine motor exercise, and using creativity.

If your child has a limited attention span, have all supplies ready before having him begin the project.

This project is great for using fine motor skills. All the kneading and massaging and rubbing really works the hands and fingers! It's fun too!

This opportunity for hands-on learning with no wrong choices is ideal to foster self esteem as well.
Although the adult should handle the rubbing alcohol the child can squeeze the food coloring and/or choose the order of the colors. This project is terrific for learning how colors mix together to make new colors too! It will happen right before their eyes!
  For Older Children: An older child will also enjoy this project as is.

PLEASE POST IN COMMENTS your opinion of this kids craft, if you enjoyed it, and other ideas that may be similar that you'd like to share with us!


Em said...

Those look cute! Also loved the paint dripping craft from earlier.

I think what you used is generally called liquid food coloring. Gel food coloring is a lot thicker & more intense and used for coloring royal icing and other frosting to get the color without watering the icing down. You usually scrape a little up on a toothpick to color icing and have to mix it quite a bit, so I don't think an actual gel food coloring would spread enough to saturate all of the cotton balls. Hopefully this will save someone a little confusion!

Deborah J Stewart said...

I have also colored cotton balls by shaking them in a bag of powdered (dry) tempera paint but this did get on your hands a bit. wooden toys, pretend play, and play food for preschool! Ages 0-6 superstore! said...

Em, thank you for that comment. I have 2 sets of food coloring and one says "gel" on it. However, they do both come out liquidy so I find it strange too, especially after what you wrote. I checked the package and it says Wilton Gel Food Color on it. It does squeeze out just like a liquid so I'm not sure if my "gel" is really "gel" or not! wooden toys, pretend play, and play food for preschool! Ages 0-6 superstore! said...

Deborah, thank you for stopping by! I don't have any powdered tempera paint but I would love a way to color them more evenly. Must be a way!

Outdoor Toys For Children said...

This is such a wonderful post.I will surely get the "cotton Ball Coloration: done for my kids. The tiny tots are going to love playing with it, I am sure about it.
Thanks to you for putting this up. It surely is a very creative idea.
Well Done.
:) wooden toys, pretend play, and play food for preschool! Ages 0-6 superstore! said...

ONE MORE NOTE: Taking the cotton out of the bag and allowing to dry flat will reduce the drying time.

Thank you very much "Outdoor".

Henry Brown | therapy products said...

Kids who are over 3.5 years can use the tempera colors. Yes one can use cotton balls in tempera colors to give it different shade.

Darcey said...

This is a great idea. These would be great to use with other crafts or even in a sensory tub if you colored enough of them. I've included your post on my weekly favorites here:

Anonymous said...

I loved this project so much but found it frustrating that some of the cotton balls would become completely staturated in the color. I did some experimenting and found a fairly good solution to my problem that more evenly colored all the cotton balls. After putting in the capful of RA and 10 drops of FC i then sealed the bag and evenly spread the coloring instead the bag. I then added the cotton balls and sealed the bag again. I massaged the cotton balls to wipe all the color from the inside of the bag.. This techinic worked well to evenly color the cotton balls. wooden toys, pretend play, and play food for preschool! Ages 0-6 superstore! said...

Anonymous, I agree that they can come out unevenly. I like your solution! Also, someone else said using powdered tempera paint works but I've never tried that. Thanks for sharing your improvement!

William Winston said...

Really appreciated entry in Jute bags and its environmental benefits! It has greatly captured my attention and I am highly impressed with your writing style and presentation of viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

How long do they take to dry?

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