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How to dye beans for your sensory table
Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table
6 Aug, 2016. 10 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Kindergarten, Preschool. Posted By: Kristen Smith

How to dye beans for your sensory table

Hello everyone! This morning I was dying beans for my new group of kindergarteners and thought I would write a quick tutorial on how I dyed them. This sensory bin is all about COLOR and therefore I wanted them to be super vibrant.

To do this, I went the grocery store (I went to Whole Foods) and bought the beans in bulk. (It’s cheaper this way– plus Whole Foods has awesome bulk containers that I use over and over again!)

How to dye beans for your sensory table

I ended up buying:

3 containers of yellow lentils (because they were on sale)

2 containers of navy beans

2 containers of lima beans

and 2 containers of white kidney beans

I could have bought all the same beans but I wanted a variety in texture, size, and shape to encourage that conversation while the kids are playing.

To dye the beans you will need rubbing alcohol, ziplock baggies (freezer size),  baking trays, parchment paper, and some sort of dye. Personally I like to use liquid watercolor as it creates a super vibrant color but food coloring works too. If you are using food coloring, I have had the most success using the gel colors.

Making the beans took me about 30 minutes and when you use rubbing alcohol, they dry pretty quickly.

Dying The Beans:

Step one:  Pour 1.5- 2 cups of beans into a baggie.

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

Step 2: Add 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol into the bag.

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

Step 3: Add your dye.

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

Step 4: Seal the bag (tight!!) and shake up the beans so that they are coated with the dye.

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

If the color isn’t exactly what you were going for, add more dye. In my opinion,  if you want a vibrant color, don’t be stingy with the dye. In the past when I have used neon food coloring, I used anywhere between 30 drops- the entire bottle of food coloring per bag. With the liquid watercolor, I didn’t measure but my guess is I added about 1/4 cup. I then let the beans soak in the dye for about 15 minutes.

This is what my beans looked like inside the bags.

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

Step 5: Cover your tray with parchment paper and then dump the contents of the bag onto the tray. I use a utensil to make sure the beans are spread out.

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

Step 6: Once the beans are dry you can add them to your sensory table!

Aren’t they pretty?!? I can’t wait for my new batch of kindergarteners to explore with them!

Tutorial: How to dye beans for your sensory table

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10 Comments
  1. Ana -

    So pretty!!! I will definitely give this a try!

  2. I am soooooo doing this tomorrow! Just in time for my back to school prep! Love this, thank you so much!!!

  3. where do you get the liquid watercolor?

  4. Val -

    How do you introduce these? Do you let them mix the colored beans themselves or do you dump them in and mix them up before they come in?

    • Val, I put them in the sensory table in rows and show all the students as we talk about how we can use the sensory table but as soon as they play there they all get mixed up! (Which is what I expect to happen!!)

  5. Hi Kristen. I would love to add a sensory bin to my class this year, but I don’t have an actual sensory table. What size tub would you suggest I get? Would a regular plastic dishtub be big enough? Or something bigger??

    • Jenna, I think it depends on the space you have in your classroom. I have a few different sized bins that I use. I think that anything you choose will be great!

  6. Lisa -

    What a beautiful range of colors! My son and I are making Find It type bottles for his 9 cousins for Christmas. We hoped to do personal interest type princess bottles with pinks and purples, superhero bottles with red and blue and ninja turtles with green and browns. I have 10lbs of lentils to work with and can’t wait to get started after seeing this!!! If it works well, we will do his K5 friends next by letting them fill bottles and add trinkets for their school holiday party craft!

  7. My beans have dried overnight and are still sticking together. I have one tray of them in the oven at 200 degrees, hoping to solve the problem. Any ideas?

10 Comments

  • Ana -

    So pretty!!! I will definitely give this a try!

  • I am soooooo doing this tomorrow! Just in time for my back to school prep! Love this, thank you so much!!!

  • where do you get the liquid watercolor?

  • Val -

    How do you introduce these? Do you let them mix the colored beans themselves or do you dump them in and mix them up before they come in?

    • Val, I put them in the sensory table in rows and show all the students as we talk about how we can use the sensory table but as soon as they play there they all get mixed up! (Which is what I expect to happen!!)

  • Hi Kristen. I would love to add a sensory bin to my class this year, but I don’t have an actual sensory table. What size tub would you suggest I get? Would a regular plastic dishtub be big enough? Or something bigger??

    • Jenna, I think it depends on the space you have in your classroom. I have a few different sized bins that I use. I think that anything you choose will be great!

  • Lisa -

    What a beautiful range of colors! My son and I are making Find It type bottles for his 9 cousins for Christmas. We hoped to do personal interest type princess bottles with pinks and purples, superhero bottles with red and blue and ninja turtles with green and browns. I have 10lbs of lentils to work with and can’t wait to get started after seeing this!!! If it works well, we will do his K5 friends next by letting them fill bottles and add trinkets for their school holiday party craft!

  • My beans have dried overnight and are still sticking together. I have one tray of them in the oven at 200 degrees, hoping to solve the problem. Any ideas?

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