Scented Sensory Play with Rainbow Beans

We love sensory beans – they are a great way to help our little ones enhance their fine motor skills – through play! This sensory beans activity will become your kiddo’s favorite sensory bin fillers. The best part is that they are scented with essential oils so they have extra benefits. Yay!

Sensory play is one of the themes in the new book from Asia Citro, 150 Screen-Free Activities for Kids – 238 pages of play! This book is great for preschoolers and kindergarteners as it includes so many ideas and recipes for open-ended play.

Image shows a kid's hand playing with sensory beans in different colors, scented with essential oils.
Kids will love these scented rainbow beans.

Scented Sensory Play

Sensory activities, such as these sensory beans, are perfect for kids of all ages, but they’re even better for little kids who are just exploring the world. Our kids can spend an entire day playing with this sensory box – and since they have essential oils, there are extra added benefits as well. Our favorite essential oils are:

  • Clary sage: Clary sage promotes relaxation while helping kids stay focused on any activity.
  • Cypress: Cypress essential oil has a clean, evergreen aroma that can be used aromatically to create an ambiance of security and grounding.
  • Orange: Promotes positivity and happiness, and helps relieve stress.
  • Melissa essential oil: It has a fresh, lemony-herbal aroma that helps to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
  • Ylang Ylang essential oil: It has a calming and balancing aroma for a smooth and happy heart.

Note: Toddlers and younger kids need adult assistance at all times as beans may be a choking hazard.

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Creating Rainbow Beans:  

Collage of 2 images showing kids making rainbow scented beans for sensory play and putting them into ziploc bags. From Kids Activities Blog.
This activity is perfect for kids who love sensory activities.

Making the Rainbow

Step 1

Split the beans into baggies – we put about 2 cups of beans into each baggie to make each color. Add drops of food dye. We used about 15 drops of each color to get the vibrant colors.

Step 2

After you add the drops, add 1/4 (roughly) cup of rubbing alcohol to the baggie. This will help spread the color through the beans – helps the beans absorb the dye and as it evaporates quickly your beans should be ready for play in just a couple hours!

Step 3

Mix the bags by “smushing” the baggies to distribute the color evenly. Next you get to add scents!

Step 4

Add a few drops of your preferred essential oils (we suggest only using two or three oils so the scents are not overwhelming). Remember – the scents go a long way. Encourage your kids to NOT put the beans in their mouths.

sensory play with rainbow scented beans

Step 5

After you add your oils, let the beans sit out for a couple of hours on cookie sheets while the color cures.  This is an important step as you need the alcohol to completely evaporate. If you leave that ingredient out the dye tends to rub off (it’s not enough to stain clothes, but you still want to avoid any mess!)

Yield: 1

Scented Sensory Play with Rainbow Beans

Let's make scented rainbow beans for sensory play - kids of all ages will love playing with them.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Difficulty Medium
Estimated Cost $15-$20

Materials

  • 6 lbs White Northern Beans
  • Neon Food Dye.
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Essential Oils for scents

Tools

Instructions

  1. Split the beans into baggies – we put about 2 cups of beans into each baggie to make each color. Add 15 drops of food dye.
  2. After you add the drops, add 1/4 (roughly) cup of rubbing alcohol to the baggie.
  3. Mix the bags by “smushing” the baggies to distribute the color evenly.
  4. Add a few drops of your preferred essential oils.
  5. After you add your oils, let the beans sit out for a couple of hours on cookie sheets while the color cures.  

Notes

We suggest only using two or three oils so the scents are not overwhelming. Remember – the scents go a long way.

Encourage your kids to NOT put the beans in their mouths.

There are SO many ways that your kids can enjoy these colorful beans.

Hope you have a blast with these beans, we have!  You can use them in a wall pipe play, in touchy feely box, or you can combine them with pistachio for fun crafts with pistachio shells.

Want more sensory activities for kids? Check out these links:

Did you enjoy this scented sensory play with rainbow beans?

One Comment

  1. Beans are toxic. Diarrhea and other gastorintestinal disorders could be caused by ingesting beans. Rice and pasta are safe alter.

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