Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rainbow Beans {How To}

I want to start off by saying that I LOVE using kool-aid in my preschool classroom - but not for eating or drinking - only for arts and crafts. In the past, we've made kool-aid dough & paint and dyed silk scarves & noodles for play activities. I find the combination of their vivid colors and fruity smells to be a wonderful sensory addition to our activities. Now on to yesterday's shenanigans:


During yesterday's snowday, my son and I made a batch of Kool-Aid dyed beans for our sensory bin. I hadn't tried dying beans previously and it didn't actually occur to me that it would be all that different, so I didn't bother to research the idea at all... Overall it was a success, but after the fact, I realize that there may have been better methods.


We used the following items:
  • 6 one pound bags of navy beans (I bet that any kind of white bean would work)
  • 6-8 packs of Kook-Aid (one packet+ for each bag of beans)
  • Food coloring 
  • Rubbing Alcohol 
  • Ziplock bags (use the freezer kind so they don't break!) 

  1. We poured one packed of Kool-Aid into each bag (two for purple because I couldn't find grape Kool-Aid), a 'squirt' or two of food coloring (more for brighter beans, less for pastels), about 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol & 2 tablespoons of VERY hot water into each bag (my thought is that the hot water helps the Kool-Aid dissolve & the beans soak up the color more quickly). 
  2. Seal bags and shake until Kool-Aid is dissolved, then pour 1 pound of beans in each bag. 
  3. Reseal & shake again until beans are coated. 
  4. We left the beans sit for about 15 minutes, shaking/rotating the bag periodically. 
We did one color at a time - I suggest starting with yellow because it seemed to take the longest to soak in.


The beans almost immediately started soaking up the solution & the skins started to wrinkle a bit - that's when we poured them out onto a cookie sheet covered with paper towels & tinfoil (to minimize cleanup). My thoughts were to stop soaking he beans before the skins totally came off.

I let them sit out in the kitchen for an hour or two so that most of the alcohol could evaporate, then I preheated my oven to 175 degrees and turned it off. Then I put the trays of beans in the oven overnight. CAUTION: do not put the beans directly in the oven because the rubbing alcohol is VERY flammable!



In the morning, they were still a bit damp, so I carefully took the paper towels out from under them, reheated the oven to 175 and let them 'bake' in a warm oven for a couple of hours to fully dry them.


The colors came out somewhere between pastes & brights -- and the coloring was a bit uneven. The wrinkly skins dried back out smooth and they have a nice light fruity scent. Next time, I 'll add more Kool-Aid packs per pound of beans -- maybe 2-3 packs to make the scents & colors more vivid.

Overall, I'm pleased with them and my three-year-old is begging to play with them!  I think we'll play with them at home for a while, then I'll take them to preschool next week for St. Patrick's Day rainbow activities or Jack and the Beanstalk story extension activities this spring!





4 comments:

  1. Thanks for linking to Tuesday Tots. I've featured this fun activity this week :)

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    1. Thanks! We love the Tuesday Tots linky - always so many fun ideas!

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  2. These are beautiful!! Thank you for linking up at Toddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party!!

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    1. Thanks! My little one is still enjoying them, even weeks after the fact!

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