Looking for a craft both useful and green to do with your homeschool students? Try eco-friendly tie-dyed clothing. But wait, how can dye can be green? As a seasoned homeschool parent and green living guru, I've experimented with many projects using natural materials. It's very affordable and simple to make eco-friendly tie-dyed clothing.
First, gather some used clothing, like old t-shirts, socks, blue jeans, and headbands. Any clothing you and the kids have that's a little old or stained but still fits is good for this project. The tie-dye designs will likely cover up the stains and make the clothing new again. You'll also need some natural dyes.
Beet juice, blueberry juice, blackberry or raspberry juice, and carrot juice all make excellent dyes. Ever notice these are some of the hardest stains to get out? Many natural fruit juices are used in creating professional dyes. So are many vegetables. But you don't really need all the chemicals for efficacy. Be sure to also have some twine or other thick string handy. Have a bucket ready for each color of dye you have.
Making the Dye
Each natural dye has its own unique instructions. Some may require soaking the fabric in it for a while. Others may require cooking or otherwise preparing juices or ingredients prior to using them. The juices mentioned above can be used as they are. They will be most effective if they are heated before applying. Wonderhowto.com has a good video tutorial on making grape dye. Visit Moneycrashers.com for information on several options, including difficult colors like yellow, brown, and purple.
Creating Tie Dye Clothing With Earth Friendly Dyes
Before dying the clothing, twist it up in various locations and then also tie strings around it to keep it twisted. If you want to make some specific designs, but are unsure how, ehow has some design ideas and instructions. Instead of the rubber bands, use twine or another thick string. Once you have twisted your clothing items, submerge them in the dyes.
If you are using fruit juice or carrot juice, leave the clothing in the dye for about 24 hours after submersion. Then, take the clothing out of the dye and hang it upside down for another 24 hours to let the excess dye run off and dry. Slowly remove the twine and untwist the clothing. If there's still some dampness, lie the items flat to dry, so as not to cause the dye to run. If you are using the dyes from the outside links, use the instructions mentioned for each specific dye.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Tired of tossing heaps of paper into the trash throughout the school year? Equally tired of telling your toddler over and over that scribbling in the older kid's workbooks is a no-no? Perhaps you need a greener and more practical way to do things. Enter the green-freak/veteran homeschool supermom. Yeah, that's me - go ahead and laugh until you try my solutions. They really work! Homemade reusable workbooks can save lots of time, paper, money, and frustration throughout the years.
Materials for Homemade Reusable Workbooks
To make reusable homeschool workbooks, you'll need a laminating machine and laminating sheets, workbooks and/or loose worksheets, a hole puncher (three-ring works best), and a three-ring binder. For the kids to use them, you'll also need some earth-friendly wipe-off markers.
Making Reusable Homeschool Workbooks
If you are starting with workbooks, tear the sheets out so that they are loose. For organization, you can create reusable workbooks that are in order by grade level and subject. Use an eco-friendly permanent marker to mark the outside of the binders. Laminate each sheet individually. If you do not have the patience to do this, many office stores actually offer this service for free or at a discount on a certain day each year. It's generally near the start of the school year. Otherwise, they do charge a fee. But if you have a good number of worksheets to laminate, the fee may be worth it. Once all the sheets are laminated, punch holes in them so that they will go neatly into the binders. Then, put them in the appropriate binders.
Benefits of Homemade Reusable Homeschool Workbooks
Wipe of worksheets are great for going back to correct errors. If a student needs more time with a certain concept, you do not need to keep purchasing workbooks. Just wipe off and practice over and over. Also, if you have more than one homeschool student, you will only need to purchase or print workbooks and worksheets once. They can passed down to each child as they reach those levels. Also, by creating a reusable workbook, you are saving all that paper from going into the landfills. The plastic lamination may not be earth-friendly. But it will create an item that can last years and years, which is better for the environment than throwing piles and piles of paper and workbooks into the trash.
What to Do When Kids Outgrow the Workbooks
When kids outgrow their workbooks, create more and pass on the other ones to your other kids. If you have no other kids, give them to a friend or relative. It also would be a good idea to sell them and raise money for your homeschool. You may also donate them to a child in need. Homeless shelters and other family centered outreach programs can always use learning materials for the kids. Try contacting your local Covenant House, Red Cross, or Salvation Army to find out where you can donate them. If none of those are in your area, try contacting United Way.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Fun Green Crafts from Dryer Lint
If you use a dryer rather than a clothesline, hopefully it's an eco-friendly one. Either way, you're going to have some dryer lint. Rather than toss it out, save it up as material for kids crafts. Dryer lint can be used to create many fun projects with kids. By reusing the dryer lint, you are fostering eco-friendly habits. Instead of tossing it in a trash heap, have some fun with the kids.
Make Clay From Dryer Lint
About.com has a wonderful recipe for making modeling clay from dryer lint. This type of clay can be used to make craft items that need to be hardened. Some ideas include beads, figurines, and ornaments. The limit is only as far as a child's imagination. And admit it, some of you adults reading this want to construct some clay items as well.
Bird Nest Material
This one works best if you live in a desert climate. Otherwise, the birds will have issues with it when it rains or snows, as it remains damp for a good amount of time. Also, be sure you are using lint from natural fiber clothing, like cotton. To prepare some nesting material for birds, the kids can start with an empty toilet paper tube. They can fill the tube with twigs and a few small pieces of dryer lint, and set it on a tree branch for the birds. If you're lucky, you and the children might be able to actually watch birds gather some of the material.
Make Beautiful Recycled Paper
When you look at a chunk of dryer lint, you may not exactly be thinking of paper. However, in less than a day, the family can have some beautiful note paper from what would have been wasted in the trash bin. To add to the natural look, kids can put a leaf or two into the poured pulp mixture. Controlling the colors of the clothing you wash and dry will give you desired colors to work with.
Trailer Park Dust Bunny Craft
Now for something both fun and entertaining. If you're feeling extra crafty, you also might enjoy making the kids some of Jolene Sugarbaker's trailer park lint bunnies. Just remember that these are more for display fun and not for play.
*CAUTION: Dryer lint can be flammable, so use care in choosing how to use it, especially around children. Never use dryer lint when making clothing or stuffed toy items.
**I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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