Dying Wool: A Tub of Learning

half of an egg carton with pieces of colorful dyed wool in each compartment

During the month of February we have been learning all about wool. We had fun washing the wool, and now on to dying the wool. In the sensory tub we set up six containers with six different colors of dye. When it was time to dye, off they went to find their half an egg carton (each compartment would hold a different color) with their name. We would hear excitement when they found their name to start dying.

During this activity we heard a lot of talk about colors, and which one they like the best. We would hear things like “ I like red, but my mom likes blue,” “purple is my favorite color,” “look my egg carton looks like a rainbow” “ I have one red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and blue!” These exclamations and conversations were the natural learning connections I was expecting while dying wool.

There was also a lot of social connections and learning going on as well. Some children would ask each other how to dye the wool, and others would offer their help when they noticed a friend not sure of the process. We also heard a lot of talk about favorite colors, and if they liked the same color, “Teacher Sally’s favorite color is purple just like me!” I was thinking it was more of an individual project, and it turned into more of a cooperative experience.

My biggest surprise was dying wool turned into a math learning experience. Joe was very excited to dye his wool. After dying two colors Joe said “Teacher I have two done, and four more to dye.” Then after each color dyed until he was all done he would say “ I have three done, three left.” “I have four done and two left,” “ Now I have five and one more to go!” “Look I am done I have six”. In another class Jim found dying wool was a math experience for him as well. He would say “Teacher I have one color, I have two colors, now I have three colors.” He went on until he reached number six with more excitement in his voice as he was filling up his egg carton.

During our wool exploration we learned about shearing sheep, washing wool, dying wool and spinning the wool to yarn. The best part of wool was all the different experiential learning that happened naturally. We had name and letter recognition, color exploration and recognition, social connections, and peer teaching, and the biggest surprise was beginning math. Dying wool certainly was a fun tub of learning.