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Fifth-graders Create Dye Bath

As part of their yearlong study of American history, Karla Balskus and Jennifer Steller’s fifth-grade classes took part in experiential activities that bring their lessons to life. Recently, students created Colonial-era dyebaths to dye wool. “Students collect natural dyestuff including walnuts, goldenrod, marigolds, and red onion skins, to dye wool that they will later use to crochet their own hats and make beautiful woolen weavings,” Balskus said. “The fire tender committee starts our campfire with flint and steel and takes turns throughout the day fueling the fire while the dyebath crew stirs the dyebath. Both groups work under the supervision of their homeroom teachers and gracious parent volunteers. Water and wool helpers also play an important role.” Each dyebath produces a unique result, so students also learn that handmade products are very different from the mass-produced products of the Industrial Age, Balskus added.