Dyed lollipop sticks are the latest play dough prop and math manipulative. Through guided play, children can use these dyed lollipop sticks to extend imaginative play. They are one of my favorite math manipulatives and even have a fine motor component to them. Best of all, since they are so easy to dye, you can make them any color under the sun!
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For my family’s Christmas Eve dinner, my mother tasked me with making dessert for twenty-five family members. I made a beautiful eggnog cheesecake and a spicy dark molasses gingerbread cake. They were what I call “adult” desserts, in that I knew my children and their cousins most likely wouldn’t care much for them. So, I made corn flake wreaths and old fashioned fudge for the children. Do you think I was going overboard a bit? Four desserts for only twenty five people? Well, I was also going to make chocolate and sprinkle covered marshmallow pops for the kiddies, but luckily for everyone I ran out of time.
That stroke of luck left me with a package of lollipop sticks (affiliate) that I was never going to use for real lollipops, and I had lost interest in making marshmallow pops, or cake pops, or any other kind of “pop” for that matter.
So instead, I decided to dye them and use them as a play dough prop and math manipulative in preschool. What a huge success!
The dying process is so simple! Just grab some lollipop sticks and let them sit in some non-toxic liquid water color paint (affiliate). It takes just very very smallest amount of paint. Not even enough to cover the bottom of a container. Roll the sticks to cover completely. The liquid watercolor will quickly absorb into the lollipop sticks. I let them sit for a minute or two, then rolled them again and let them sit for another minute or so.
Aren’t they beautiful? I love the different colors and I promise my preschoolers were enamored by them. It didn’t take long for them to be the number one sought after manipulative.
The next day I added them to our play dough math center. The students experimented by poking the play dough with the lollipop sticks. One student tried to write with them in some thinly rolled out play dough. Another student pushed the sticks in sideways into a large ball of play dough, making them “disappear.” And, every student made play dough cupcakes and used the lollipop sticks as candles.
While I haven’t had the chance yet, I plan to dye several sets of different lengths. They happen to come in several lengths, making them perfect for measurement concepts. I’ve found them in 4 inches, 6 inches, 8 inches, and 11.5 inches. Imagine all the math activities these new colorful manipulatives would support!
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I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction