Drying beans for sensory play is super EASY! It may look overwhelming at first, but I’ll show you how to make colored beans with 4 easy steps. Once you see how easy it is, you will be dying beans for all things like sensory bottles, sensory tables, and writing trays.
When you use beans for sensory play, you will find it is less mess than rice and it’s much easier to clean up. Sensory bins don’t have to be a huge table or tub with tons of beans; they can be small for individual students to use. Make small individual sensory bins with pencil boxes or paper trays. These are perfect for small classrooms and are compliant with the new COVID guidelines. You can make one for each student or skill and store in student cubbies or on a shelf. Students do not have to share supplies. It’s also great for take-home bags or to use at home.
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How to Dye Beans (color with Acrylic Paint)
Just follow these simple steps! You will have brightly colored beans in no time.
Step 1: Place beans in a thick baggie. If you are making small batches, use sandwich size bags. If you are making a big single color batch, use a gallon baggie. Any cheap white beans will do.
Step 2: Add acrylic paint and close the baggie. Just a few squirts will do.
Step 3: Shake, shake, and shake! Massage the color into the beans! This is the fun part that students can help with! If the color isn’t bright enough for you, just add a few more squirts of acrylic paint and continue to mix.
Step 4: Grab a tray and cover with wax paper or foil. Spread the beans on the tray and let it dry. Remember this paint will stain so be careful to work over the wax paper!
***Let the beans air dry for 24-48 hours before you place in an airtight container. This ensures that all the moisture is out of the beans.
The beans are ready! Now for the FUN part!
Making the Sensory Bin
Make mini sensory bins with pencil boxes or any small plastic tub! Place fun tools and add-ins like colored plastic shot glasses (Dollar Tree), mini erasers (Target), tweezers, and a measuring scoop (Dollar Tree). When students explore and play in the sensory bin, your little learners will be picking up, pinching, scooping, and pouring using the tools and tiny treasures! The entire time they play they will be building their fine motor muscles and developing hand-eye coordination!
If you are making individual student supplies, grab these Editable Student Supply Labels from my TpT store here. You can see I like to color-code each student to help organize all their supplies. If you have a big class you may have four or five students that have blue supplies, and that is OK. It will still be easier to find the blue notebook with the letter “J” or “Jude” because there will only be 5 blue notebooks rather than 20 if every student had the same color.
If you want to fill a large sensory table, make a big batch of colored beans. Dump a bag or two of white beans in a gallon baggie, squirt some acrylic paint in, close the bag, and shake! Remember to cover your tray with wax paper(a step you can see I forgot to do this time). Luckily, I scrubbed the trays and the paint came off, but I’ll never forget to cover the tray again.
Pictured above is a fun sports-themed sensory bin I made with beans that I colored green! I added sports eggs (Dollar Tree during Easter), sport mini erasers (Target), mini trophies (Dollar Tree), and sport birthday cups (Dollar Tree). You could create mini sensory bins in the same way by adding two sports eggs, a mini trophy, a few erasers and beans in a pencil box.
If you want more ideas for sensory play, check out these posts by clicking on the photos below!
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