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!)
- 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).
- Seal bags and shake until Kool-Aid is dissolved, then pour 1 pound of beans in each bag.
- Reseal & shake again until beans are coated.
- We left the beans sit for about 15 minutes, shaking/rotating the bag periodically.
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!