Color Spray – Science through Art for Kids

This Color Spray science/art experiment was so simple that my preschoolers were able to replicate it at home easily, and so enthralling that it kept my text-addicted high school students away from their phones for a whole hour!

color spray science

I am super excited, I love my preschooler – but I have a houseful of them – and this year I am taking a break from them once a week and teaching a Art through Science course with our local home-school Co-op.   All of my students are potty-trained, they all can read… and they all have phones and most have taken their PSATs.

I love high-school kids!

Anyhoo, this was a science experiment I first did with them.   We attempted to replicate Kandinsky’s Circles while we watched the diffusion of color through alcohol.

Fun way to color a shirt {Preschool craft}
Supplies you will need:

  • Clean white T-Shirt – preshrunk
  • Collection of Permanent Markers
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Spray Bottle

How to Create Art – through Science:

Color circles and geometric shapes on your T-shirt with the permanent markers.   We tried to use contrasting colors in concentric rings, much like Kandinsky’s art of circles.

We love Kandinsky!

After you have your T-Shirt filled with colorful circles, fill your spray bottle with Rubbing alcohol and lightly mist the entire shirt, then squirt heavily in the middle of each circle.   Watch the alcohol spread the color through the fibers of the T-shirt fabric.


Dissolving Ink and Color Spray Science

If you are working with preschoolers, you will want to supervise them with the rubbing alcohol spray. They will feel so “big” as they see the product of their doodles explode with color!

Fun way to color a shirt {Preschool craft}

We did wash our shirts afterwards and the color faded slightly, so be sure to wash it with dark colored clothes the first time or two that your art shirt is laundered.   After the colors have set they will last for awhile!

Our shirt is still loved by my little artist and it has been several weeks since we created it together.

Did you know? We wrote a science book!

Our book, The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments, features tons of awesome activities just like this one that will keep your kids engaged while they learn. How awesome is that?!

The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments


    1. It does look like great fun! I can’t wait to try this one with my kids.

  1. Meme Dumma (Grandma) says:

    Looks fun and EZ….gonna do with my 4 yr old twin Grandson’s AND my teens……they will all enjoy doing it AND wearing them….

  2. Isn’t it fun when the same project is adored by both preschoolers and high schoolers? Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

  3. Loved this! Pinned and am featuring on my After School post today!

  4. Lovely!! This would be perfect for a homeschool co-op activity or Girl Scouts activity. Creative idea 🙂 Thank you for linking up and sharing this week on the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop!

  5. This is so great! My girls would love it, and it would be the perfect thing to do at a birthday party. Thanks for linking up at the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I pinned this to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board and to my personal boards..

  6. Looks very fun! And also fashionable! 🙂 Many thanks for inspiring us…

  7. Going to have my Girl Scout troop make cookie shirts with this technique, showed my daughter and she’s super excited! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Does it matter what the shirt is made of? Can it be a poly/cotton blend or does it need to be all cotton?

    1. I think the shirt we used was cotton, but as long as there is a lot of cotton in it, it should work. Obviously, the spread will be different with different materials…which could be a fun experiment in itself.

  9. My son did this in his 5th grade science class in 02!!!!!They used a white cotton t_-shirt they rubber band sections to a Styrofoam cup for there designs then they used eyedroppers for alcohol, there shirts turned out great and wash up great!!!! Great craft for kids!!!!!

  10. such a fun craft my kids would love to make these. Thanks for linking up at Tell Me About It Tuesday. We hope you hop over and share with us again next week.

  11. I think my year old would tell me “You’re the best Mom!” if I try that with her, I think my 3 year old would enjoy it too. Will be adding this one to my list of things to do!

  12. This is fantastic! You ladies are so creative!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  13. This is such a fun activity and the results are just fantastic! Thanks for linking to Tuesday Tots. It was chosen as our pick of the week to be featured on all 3 hosts blogs. {Learn with Play at Home, Rainy Day Mum and One Perfect Day} Can’t wait to give it a try!

  14. This is really a cool idea that would be fun and educational!

    Thanks for linking up at Tell Me About It Tuesday. We hope you hop over and share with us again this week. (Sorry for the late comment!)

  15. I used Sharpies and put the shirts in the dryer for an hour, hoping to have the colors set. On another shirt I used the dryer AND an iron. Unfortunately they all faded so badly that they can’t be used. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep the colors set? I was expecting SOME fading but not like this!
    I’ve tried different material blends and different lengths and heats to try and set the ink.

  16. ?patricia says:

    you want to set the colors by using the dryer on high for 15 mintues or an iron on high for 5 minutes. On high is the key work. All of the shirts we have done have not faded much. Also we wash with darks all the time for the shirts.

  17. This looks like something my daughter could get right into. My daughter + permanent markers = EEK lol

  18. Hi there, I just want to know what can I use instead of alcohol?

  19. What do you mean by ‘rubbing alchohol’?

  20. If you put the shirts in the dryer for 30min. by themselves, not with another load, it will set the colors and they won’t fade as quickly. Also, the T-shirt needs to be 100% cotton. Different colors of light colored T-Shirts will work as well,

  21. Do you put the T-shirt over a piece of cardboard so the colors don’t bleed through? Also. Do you set the colors right after painting or after washed?

  22. Rubbing alcohol can be found in the cosmetic or medicine sections of most stores. It is used to treat wounds, remove stains, or clean. It’s not like liquor. We picked up our supplies tonight for the weekend. Onesies for the twins done by mom, toddler tees for my little ones and shirts for the teens. So excited to have something everyone will enjoy. Nice activity for outside in this warmer weather!

  23. Hi! Awesome idea! Do you think it would set with vinegar instead? Other projects that call for rubbing alcohol can be substituted with vinegar or vodka (like dying pasta or rice). What do u think? TIA

  24. If u iron the design with a dry hot iron before u launder it after it has dried it will not fade hardly at all if at all. Place a thin towel in between the iron and the design as not to scorch the shirt.

  25. This sounds like a lot of fun. What is the science part of it? Why does the alcohol make the marker migrate? Thx!

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