This DIY bean sensory bin is so much fun for kids to play with. They will love scooping and playing with these colorful beans!
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Both of my kids love when I have a new sensory bin out for them. I have been trying to make sure I do a new bin every week or two. This week we are playing with this colorful bean sensory bin!
Sensory bins are so much fun and I think they’re great for developing fine motor skills, exploring, and just having fun. Once they are created they are an easy low prep activity to pull out.
⭐ An important note about this activity
Please note this activity is meant for older children (3+) who no longer put things in their mouths since the beans are not cooked and not meant to be eaten.
Kidney beans should not be used for sensory play. They contain a high concentration of a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin and are unsafe if eaten raw.
⭐ How to dye beans for sensory bins
To dye beans for a sensory bin, you will need:
- Bagged dry white beans (such as navy beans or lima beans)
- Rubbing alcohol
- Food coloring
- Large plastic storage bags (such as Ziplock)
- A baking sheet or tray
- Aluminum foil or parchment paper
Begin by dividing your beans up in the large storage bags (divide them into however many colors you want to make).
Add about ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol and several drops of food coloring. I always start with less food coloring and add more if I need it.
Close the bag and shake well so the color is distributed evenly.
Let the beans sit for 10 to 15 minutes then lay the beans flat to dry on a tray or baking sheet that has been covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Next, let the beans air dry (I let ours dry overnight).
Test that the beans are completely dry by dabbing them with a paper towel.
I use large Tupperware containers as our sensory bins. They’re super easy to store.
⭐ Fun tools and ideas for sensory bins
Some fun tools for sensory bins include:
- Cookie cutters
- Measuring cups
- Plastic shovels
- Small cups
- Construction vehicles (my kids love playing with their small constructions toys in their sensory bins)
⭐ Will the beans stain hands?
These dyed beans will not stain your hands but be sure to let them dry first. I let ours dry overnight on an aluminum foil covered tray. You can test their dryness with a paper towel before letting your child play with them.
⭐ What type of beans to use
I used navy beans and lima beans. The navy beans worked much better for me when I dyed the beans. As you can seen the lima beans didn’t hold the colors as well but my kids still thought they were really cool.
If you don’t feel like dying beans you could use black beans and white beans to make a black and white colored sensory bin.
⭐ How to contain the mess
We usually do our sensory bins on our porch and then I use a shop broom to sweet up any mess. If it’s a bad weather day and we can’t be on the porch, I set out an old vinyl tablecloth. Usually the mess stays on the tablecloth and I can shake out any stray beans (or rice, pasta, whatever is in the bin) out into the trash that way.
⭐ Sensory Bin FAQs
Beans are safe for sensory play with the exclusion of kidney beans. Kidney beans contain a high concentration of a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin and are unsafe if eaten raw.
You can put any beans you like dyed or undyed with the exception of kidney beans. Things like plastic cookie cutters, small cups, and scoops are fun for kids to explore with.
You can use any where from one pound to even four or five pounds.
We planted some of our beans and they actually grew in our garden. It was a cool experiment.
Sensory bins are so much fun for young kids to explore. They are great for fine motor skills, exploring, and developing their imagination.
Other fun sensory bin ideas:
If you tried this Bean Sensory Bin or any other activity or recipe on my site, please leave a ⭐ rating and let me know how it goes in the 📝 comments below. I would love to hear from you!
Bean Sensory Bin (How to Dye Beans)
- tray or baking sheet
- Plastic storage bags
- Measuring cup
- 4 cups beans see note (do not use kidney beans)
- rubbing alcohol
- food coloring
- Begin by dividing your beans up in the large storage bags (divide them into however many colors you want to make, I did one cup per color).
- Add about ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol and several drops of food coloring. I always start with less food coloring and add more if I need it.
- Close the bag and shake well so the color is distributed evenly.
- Let the beans sit for 10 to 15 minutes then lay the beans flat to dry on a tray or baking sheet that has been covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Next, let the beans air dry (I let ours dry overnight).
- Test that the beans are completely dry by dabbing them with a paper towel.
- I use large Tupperware containers as our sensory bins. They’re super easy to store.