Red Cabbage – How much?

abc doesBoys Learning, Child Initiated Learning, Creativity, Environment3 Comments


I can't look at a red cabbage without thinking of Victoria Wood! If you are too young to remember  – look it up on You Tube!

As I have mentioned before we are doing lots of work on trying to get the children to recognise every day fruit and veg. We are also signing ' Cauliflowers Fluffy ' which does indeed mention many and various varieties. Today's activity came from a discussion with a child around a line in the song that says ' and cabbages green ' I remarked that not all cabbages were green and they refused to believe me. So today I took in 4 red cabbages (even more confusing because they are purple) to see what they would think.


  They were really beautiful and a very vivid purple. We passed them round and felt them and sniffed them and then I asked the children what they thought they were – no one thought cabbage. The most popular suggestion? A dinosaur egg!

Before I told them what it was I cut one in half. The knife made a really loud crunch and then squeaked as I pulled it out. This just added to the fact that there might be a dinosaur in there. I was almost sad that there wasn't!

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I asked the children what they thought you could do with one of these. Again I was surprised at how long it took someone to suggest you might eat it. I talked to the children about how vegetables were sometimes used to change the colour of things and told them that we were going to use our cabbage to dye a pair of curtains for our Workshop.

Once again they all looked at me like I was mad! I told them I was going to be chopping up the cabbage and needed helpers. I also said I would love to see some artwork based on our cabbages if they fancied it. What I was chuffed about was that some of them could tell me which two colours to mix to get purple and (from the afternoon children) how to make it lighter and darker.

So far we have had a raft of interesting things to paint – chickens, tortoises, gerbils, to name but a few and the interest has always been minimal. Give them a purple cabbage and they go ' still life craxy ' we got LOADS!


So we chopped (and yes that is a real knife!) No one amputated anything and they made a really good job of it.

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We filled the pan and added just plain water.

Then we set it to boil and boil and boil and stink and stink and stink! Even Y6 upstairs were complaining by the end of the day!

At the end of the session we strained the cabbage. We were all impressed by how purple the water was. I thought the children would be disgusted by the grey mush that now lay in the bottom of the pan – far from it. They asked if they could eat some and once they started there was not stopping them. They LOVED it!

Not nice to look at or smell! But…



Tomorrow we are trying some samples of calico in the juice to see if it will dye. Apparently it dyes blue! ALSO if you use beetroot to dye fabric – it goes yellow! Now I never knew that. It certainly makes your wee go pink – but I think that is the pickling!

Will let you know how the dying goes. I also found out that if you wrap an egg in a red cabbage leaf and boil it the shell turns blue. Now that sounds like something I have to try!



3 Comments on “Red Cabbage – How much?”

  1. Where exactly can I find that Victoria Wood sketch on You Tube? I’m desperate to show my kids but can’t find it. Anyone got a link?

  2. loved the whole natural dying carry on Alistair.You may think about ‘fixing’ the colour.Racking my brain its called a mordent and you can use natural things to do it eg the commercial dylon uses salt.I think copper pans ? there again different fixes produce different colours….fun fun fun!

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