The Incredible Egg – Egg Dyeing with Natural Dyes

Art Science
Time 2 hours
Age 7 & up
Group Size Less than 10
Tags Dye, Easter, Egg,   more...

Create colorful eggs without using chemicals!

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal—and eggs! Many animals lay and incubate eggs in the spring, and in some cultures spring is a time in which kids paint, hide and eat lots of eggs. This makes it a great time to not only take a close look at eggs, but also to experiment with some of the things we can do with them. This activity is part of the Incredible Egg series of activities, which are designed to be done during the Spring—start your students off with some of the “egg science” activities, then move on to “egg art”, and finally take the Egg Drop Challenge!


This activity requires some advance preparation from the teacher, but the results are worth it.

Gather materials. Ask a local grocery store to donate onion skins. You will have to chop the cabbage & spinach leaves & other vegetables, defrost blueberries, make coffee. It may be helpful for the children to play around with some dyes that are already made. Try making some dyes ahead of time—this allows you to have some fun with the materials and will help you to help the kids through the activity. Below is the basic procedure for creating the egg dyes:

  1. Some of the dye suggestions (see Color Glossary in the “Make it Better” section) will require you to boil the eggs along with the ingredients for the dye, others will suggest that you have the egg sit in the dye at room temperature.
  2. Put eggs in a single layer into a pot. Pour water in pan until eggs are covered (usually about a quart).
  3. Add two teaspoons of vinegar. The vinegar will help the eggs absorb the colors.  It may also help to rub the eggs with vinegar before boiling.
  4. Add the ingredients to make the natural dye appropriate to the color you want the eggs to be. See the Color Glossary in the “Make it Better” section. (The more eggs you are dyeing at a time, the more ingredients you may need to use)
  5. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Strain dye into a bowl.
  7. If you want eggs to be a darker shade try boiling ingredients for 30 minutes rather than 15 minutes. Cover eggs with the dye and let them stand overnight in the refrigerator.
  8. You can also try adding more ingredients to deepen the hue—let the egg sit in the dye for a couple of hours or overnight in a refrigerator.
  9. Once the dyed eggs are dry, they can be rubbed with vegetable oil to make them shiny.
The Incredible Egg – Egg Dyeing with Natural Dyes

Suggested Materials

  • White eggs (2 or 3 per student)
  • Yellow onion skins (local supermarkets are usually happy to donate these)
  • 1 container of ground turmeric spice (found in any regular grocery store, if available check Indian grocery store for the best price)
  • Spinach leaves
  • Frozen raspberries or fresh beets or cranberries
  • Raspberry tea
  • Canned or frozen blueberries or red cabbage leaves
  • Strong brewed coffee
  • Yellow Delicious apple peels
  • Large pots (3–4)
  • Stirring spoons
  • Vinegar
  • An oven or portable burner

Make it Matter

Opening Discussion

Ask children if they’ve ever dyed eggs before. What is the dye used to color these eggs made from? What did kids dye eggs or other things with years ago before they could go to the store and buy these artificial dyes? When you think of tie dyeing, you think of bright, fun colors. You may want to mention that the dyes they are about to experiment with are going to be a range of colors, some will be lighter than they expect, but they should have fun creating a range of colors. Explain to the children that they are going to color eggs using natural dyes and ingredients found in the kitchen. Then they will have a chance to create their own dye recipes. An adult will still be needed to supervise the stove or portable burner.

The Challenge

Create your own dyed eggs using these natural materials!


Make it Happen

Doing the Activity

  1. Students should work in teams of 2 for this activity. You can also have them work individually.
  2. There are two types of procedures you can have the children follow: Recipe or Experimenting. This will depend on the age, experience and learning styles of your kids. Refer to the Preparation section above for necessary steps.
  3. If using the Recipe method: Students will follow recipes for the dyes step by step. Use the Preparation above and the recipes from the Color Glossary found in the “Make it Better” section to create the recipes.
  4. If children will be Experimenting: Students can experiment with different amounts of ingredients and techniques. They should write down what “recipes” they are using to get their results.

Make it Click

Let’s Talk About It

After dyeing one egg, bring your students together to talk about what they discovered. Did anything surprise them? What colors did they try? What colors would they like to try? What would happen if they tried more than one color on an egg?


Make it Better

Build On What They Talked About

Have teams create more eggs. Try lots of different colors and combinations—see some of the possibilities below.

Color Glossary:

Natural dyes can sometimes produce unexpected results. Use the following guide to help you achieve the colors you desire:


Some other cool methods:

Onion Skin Eggs

  • Gather 4 cups of yellow onion skins (the dry outer layers). Most supermarkets will be happy to donate these if you tell them it is for an afterschool program.
  • Gently wrap onion skins around raw egg, enough to cover the egg with the skins. Hold the onionskins in place by wrapping a few rubber bands around the onionskin-wrapped egg.
  • Boil the onionskin-wrapped eggs for 30 minutes.
  • After the egg cools off, unwrap the skin to reveal the beautiful colors.

Marbleized Eggs

  • Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to any dye solution and stir, or stand the egg in a small cup and slowly spoon the oil-water mixture over it.
  • When the egg dries, repeat the steps with another color for an interesting color combination effect.
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