Take a look at the picture below. Have you ever seen anything so vibrant and inviting? I’m not sure my preschoolers had because when I introduced them to this summer sensory bin they squealed with the delight only equal to Christmas morning.
Dyed Beans Summer Sensory Bin
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A summer sensory bin doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something colorful and suitable for outside will do. Something even as simple as some dyed lima beans and plastic cups and tubes in coordinating colors.
It does not need to have an overarching theme that screams summertime. It does not have to include water, either. The bin I set up for my preschoolers couldn’t have been more simple, and yet with such basic materials couldn’t have been more appropriate for our summer learning outside.
Materials for Summer Sensory Bin
- large tote for sensory bin or sensory table
- dried lima beans (or other white bean)
- liquid watercolor
- small plastic shot glasses (preferably clear)
- small plastic tubes glasses (preferably clear)
The first step is to dye your lima beans. I just put them in a zip-top baggie with a few squirts of liquid watercolor and a squirt of hand sanitizer to set the color. Don’t squish out the air out, but seal the bag tight, and shake really well, or have your kiddie do the shaking for you. Once the desired color is achieved, lay the beans in a single layer on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet. From here, you can let them air dry, or to speed up the process you can put them in you oven on the warm setting.
Once you have a few colors, if that is what your desire, pour them nicely in rows in the sensory bin. Then, add the colorful plastic glasses and tubes.
Invite your child to play.
Playing in a Summer Sensory Bin
Of course, the first thing the preschoolers did was to mix up the colors, and doing so made the sensory bin even more fun!
And they scooped and poured. And poured and scooped. Twisting and turning their wrists in just the right way to spill the beans from one tube or cup into another. And the noise the beans made as they were shoved around in the bin and dropped from different distances did not escape their little ears, and only piqued their interest.
Some students discovered that the beans made different noises being dropped from a distance back into the bin than they did when dropped into a glass or one of the tubes. They tried dropping them into piles of beans and onto the concrete (although I discourage the later to minimize the mess).
All the while other students attempted to sort the beans back into their color categories.
The great thing about dyed beans for a sensory bin is that as long as they don’t get wet they will basically last indefinitely. Like dyed rice, I keep mine stored in an airtight zip-top baggie.
But I will be completely honest with you, should one fall onto the lawn, you may sprout a bean plant! And think of all the versions of Jack and the Bean Stalk you can go with that! (Have you seen all the ideas I’ve pinned to my Favorite Books Preschool Theme on Pinterest?) And…that is one reason why this sensory bin is best outside. Not only does the summer weather
And…that is one reason why this sensory bin is best outside. Not only does the summer weather call for the preschool children to play and learn outside, but the mess is easier contained and clean up.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.