Guide to Dyeing Sensory Materials


Guide to Dyeing Sensory Materials

March 22, 2020

There are so many everyday household items that can be used for sensory play! What makes them more fun? Dyeing them your child’s favorite color, making holiday themed sensory materials, or making rainbow sensory materials. Through trial and error, I have tested out some different methods of dyeing sensory materials and here are the ways that I found to work best.

  1. Dyeing Dry Rice- Some methods say food coloring and vinegar. My favorite way to create vibrant colorful rice is to use some Crayola paint ( or any kids paint you have). I use about two cups of rice and 1 tbsp of paint each time and shook it up in a large ziplock bag. Then lie the rice out to dry on a paper towel. The above rice I used to create a Valentine’s Day themed sensory bin.

      2. Dyeing Dried Chickpeas- To make rainbow chickpeas, I used about 1 cup of chickpeas for each color. I have found that liquid watercolors work better than food coloring as they gave a more vibrant color. Add 1 cup of chickpeas to a large ziplock and about 5 squirts of liquid watercolor. Shake the bag to coat the chickpeas. Add more liquid watercolor if needed to coat the chickpeas. The awesome thing about chickpeas it that they dry really fast.


3. Dyeing Cooked Spaghetti- There are two ways to dye spaghetti, but I found this way to work best. Add quite a bit of food coloring to the boiling water that you are cooking your spaghetti in. As the spaghetti softens, you can add more food coloring to the pot as needed if the pasta isn’t colored enough. Strain the water and spaghetti. I usually give my spaghetti a rinse under cold water to, 1. cool it down, and 2. remove any excess food coloring. You now have a taste safe, colorful, sensory material!

4. Dyeing Dry Pasta- I like to dye my pasta using food coloring and vinegar. I use about 1 cup of pasta added to a bag with 1 tbsp of vinegar and 10 drops of food coloring. Mix and squish the pasta in the bag to coat it with the coloring solution. Once all the noodles are covered, you can take the pasta out to dry, or leave it for 5-10 min (mixing or shaking the bag once or twice) for the color to darken. Lay the pasta out on a lined cookie sheet to dry, usually this takes 10 hours or overnight. You can then add the pasta to a sensory bin, use it for arts and crafts or add some string to make necklaces.

5. Dyeing Light Colored Dry Beans (Ex. white navy beans, lima beans,etc.)- Measure a cup of beans into a tupperware container, add 15 drops of food coloring. Close the lid and shake them for 20 seconds until all the beans are coated. Dump them onto a paper towel lined cookie sheet and spread them out.  Let them dry for several hours. Once dry you can add them to a sensory bin for play!


**Please note that some of these sensory materials may present a choking hazard for young children.  Uncooked beans, chickpeas, pasta and rice if ingested, can cause discomfort.  Please provide constant supervision during sensory play.**

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