On Father’s Day Weekend, my preschooler and I were busy filling up ice cube trays with food coloring and water and made a few spills.  After mopping up our mess with some paper towels, we realized that we accidentally had come upon a beautiful Paper Towel Tie Dye art activity. art-for kids tie dye paper towels feature


  • paper towels
  • water
  • food coloring
  • a watercolor tray
Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy paint tray, we used a chip and dip tray we found in the Target $1 bins.  You could also just put together a bunch of bowls from your kitchen.

How To

This activity is as easy as dip, scrunch, and unroll!

Jane dipped her paper towel in one color, and then dipped and dipped again.  Then, she squeezed out all the excess water, and unraveled her striking masterpieces!  

She found they were more than just pretty decoration, but they made great skirts and kerchiefs, too. This was a great opportunity to continue talking about the concepts of Absorption and Color Mixing  , which we’ve been doing lately. We noticed that the colored water seeped into the paper towels just like it did in the celery stalks of our Celery Capillary Action Experiment,  and that we could squeeze out color from the towels just like we did with the sponges in our Sponge Painting Art Activity.

We Talked About:

  • Why the paper towel soaked up the water
  • What happened to the water in the paper towel
  • What would happen if we squeezed the soaked paper towel
  • Why our patterns had more than just the colors that were in the tray

My toddler got in on the fun as well, amazed by the changing colors.

Since we used high quality towels, the kids could keep dipping and squeezing over and over again.  They made up a game of soaking up water from the tray and carrying it over to a little wading pool to squeeze out into a swirling black liquid mess, which they were mesmerized with for the rest of the afternoon.
Have you or you kids accidentally created something beautiful out of what you thought was just a mess?   Check out these ideas from the Quirky Mommas:

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    1. Hope you guys have fun with this … it looks super messy, but it so easy to clean up since you’ll be playing with water anyway!

  1. Hi! Stopping over from the Mommy Club blog hop! I love this idea and will be trying it out with my 2.5 year old later this week! Now following!

  2. I love the vivid colors you were able to get. I need to work on using brighter colors when we dye things.

    1. I used the neon food coloring instead of the regular kind. It’s definitely vibrant, to say the least! I personally prefer it, but I’m sure the kids would love any color.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Brenna – I just popped over to check your project out. We have yet to do coffee filter art like that because I keep forgetting to buy the right kind of filters 🙂 Will try it out!

  3. What a great new take on some of our favorite activities! I will be trying this with my little ones tomorrow! Thankyou. Sometimes simple is definitely the best! 🙂

    1. I definitely agree that simple is often best – especially when it comes to kids and the activities they love and learn from. Hope you enjoy this activity!