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T-shirt Transformations

Although the focus was on developing understanding of change, it is through our actions we wish to raise awareness and promote the idea that waste materials can be RE-invented to create new and precious objects.

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Through transforming an old plain white t-shirt into a colorful new t-shirt we are able to support and nurture the concept of RE-cycling, RE-ducing and RE-using.

A proposal

The EY2 children were invited to bring an old plain white t-shirt to school and learn the technique of tie-dye to transform it.


The children were bouncing with excitement when the time came for them to work in small groups in the Atelier. Together the children examined their old shirts and experimented with patterns that could be made  with fabric dye and rubber bands. Taking time to talk to each other about what they were doing and to share ideas about the possibilities of transformation. The Atelier became a hive of activity as the children took their old shirts and added their own personal style to it. Taking time to carefully choose colours and to wrap rubber bands the children worked to re-invent their shirts.

“We used tie dye and tie dye makes things different colours.” (Lauren)

“Everyone’s has changed colour because we tie dyed it.” (Toby)

“We put tie dye inside the t-shirt to make it colorful.” (Yassin)

“You had to wear gloves.” (Evi)

“We just paint and dry it up.” (Anas)

“I think it was a glue paint of the color and you squeeze the paint onto the t-shirt.” (Gustavo)


The t-shirts were hung out to dry. The children demonstrated patience as they needed to wait several days before removing the rubber bands and carefully scrutinising  their work.  

There were interesting conversations as the children  shared theories about whether this was a reversible or irreversible change.

“You put the glue and you roll it up and then you put the color and you dry it up. Put it in your laundry because you make it clean.” (Efosa)

“If we paint it and it gets dry how will it come  off?” (Karim)

“It will stay like it forever because it dried up.” (Penny) 

“It can also go away if you put water. If you put it in the washing machine it will go back to white.” (Farida)

“I think if you put it in the extra speedy washing machine, it will come off extra speedy and it be white and one day we can paint it all over again.” (Gustavo) 

“If you put it in the washing machine, it will slide out all the colors and paint the inside of the washing machine and make the washing machine all colored.” (Saxon)


The children were delighted with the transformed clothing and had further ideas about how to share their pleasure.  

“I like the colors because I like the different coilers. You can show. You can wear.” (Efosa)

“I love it so much because its swirly and swirly. I want to lay down in it.” (Luna)

“Me sitting here making it. Me wearing it.” (Farida)

“It’s good. I want to take it home. Its very very good. My mum will be so happy with it. She will love it. And I will love it!” (Ruby)

“These are the decorations and thats the sleeve. That is the whole shirt. I like it better with colors because it’s more beautiful. (Khalil)

“This is me in that t-shirt. Colorful t-shirts. I like the colours because now it’s beautifuller.” (Henri)

Penny and Gabrielle worked together to make a  book about the t-shirts, 

“T-shirt, t-shirt, team work” by Penny and Gabrielle

  1. This is the t-shirt.
  2. This is us spraying the t-shirt. We sprayed the t-shirt. We mix it up to make a beautiful and colors.
  3. It looks pretty.
  4. It was super colorful.
  5. We tried to look at it. It was stripy.
  6. The t-shirts were super colorful. Green and purple.
  7. Then it was like an explosion of color.

Khadija was also inspired to write a book.

“Once upon a time, I wanted to put my t-shirt in my bag and take it home. I put a bottle of red and green and blue on it and purple. We had to roll it up. When I finished i went to soccer shots.” (Khadija)

And Karim, “The colourful t-shirt” by Karim, 

“Someone is going to the beach and relaxing wearing the colourful t-shirt.”

And Harris, “Fashion” by Harris, 

“This is me making my t-shirt. Then this is me sitting down and I’m putting the paint on it. Then I poured more on it to have more colours. Then I poured more colours. It covered my t-shirt. Mr Roy helped me. And I got to wear it. I like it coloured. It’s rainbowy.”

Abhinaav could imagine where he would wear his t-shirt, “I’m on the dance floor with my t-shirt. Then I am back at hime. It was so amazing. I love the white so I can colour at home again.”

They decided to hold a fashion show so that they could all celebrate each others work.

“I’m excited. We’re having a fashion show. Everyone gets to see our t-shirts. They are cool and amazing.” (Penny)

The children proudly wore their t-shirts home at the end of the day.