Coloring Lima Beans for Learning and Crafts

Usually, when people think of sensory boxes for children they think of colored rice.  Colored rice, lentils, birdseed are all items that work great in sensory boxes.  Today I’m going to show how to color lima beans for learning and crafts and  sensory boxes too!

transferring activities using lima beans

I found bulk lima beans at Winco for $1.48 a pound.  It wasn’t all that long ago that I used to be able to pick up one pound bags of limas for .50 each.  I walked out with 10 pounds of lima beans and a little over $15.00 poorer.

10 pounds of Lima Beans

In reality, this will be $15.00 well spent as I will be able to use colored lima beans not just in sensory boxes, but as counters, in transferring activities,  items to sort, pincher grip improvement and art projects.


Rubbing alcohol and food coloring used to color lima beans

The technique is super simple.  I added about 1/4 of a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol to a baggie.  Then I chose the color I wanted and added a few drops, mixing the alcohol and food coloring together to make sure I was getting the depth of color I wanted.

Lima Beans colored with alcohol and food coloring

Next I added the beans and began to mix and shake.  Color not dark enough? A few more drops of food coloring.

I had someone tell me that they didn’t like the smell of the alcohol when using this technique.  You are using such a small amount that I really didn’t smell the alcohol, but in case you do, remember alcohol evaporates leaving NO smell at all.  Nada. 

Lima beans colored with food coloring and alcohol

Using alcohol insures that your beans will dry quickly, and in my experience it helps to set the food coloring so that your child’s hands aren’t a rainbow of color after they have finished playing.

Sensory Table Activities

Parker was blessed with a new sensory table.  We’ve used clear boxes, made our own knock off table from Ikea stuff, but I have to say having a table that Parker can stand up at has taken the entire sensory table experience to new heights.

Colored lima beans in a sensory table

I’ll store our rainbow hued beauties in mason jars.  You could use Zip-Locks if you want.

Parker playing in his sensory box

This is a kid loving himself some texture and colors.  Look at that attention Now if I could only apply that same type of concentration to his potty training .


  1. Stacy Mar 7, 13
  2. Debs Mar 11, 13
  3. Cait Mar 9, 14
    • Tammy and Parker Mar 11, 14
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