Number, Letter, and Color Play

Hi Kid Lab, Sarah here. 

Recently my kids have been using a simple bag of large lima beans for all sorts of sensory play that I have been posting on Instagram @drawpaintprint. I thought I would share a few of the ways we have been exploring dried beans because they are such a huge hit with any age child. The very first sensory bin I did with my toddlers involved letting them sit in a large clear plastic bin with some cups and a bag of dried beans. You will know best when your child can safely explore dried beans without trying to eat them! The sound and feel of beans is perfect for little hands to dump, pour, and practice their finger motor skills. But as my children have gotten older we have found even more ways to use dried beans for imaginative play and learning experiences. 

Sharpie markers are perfect to write on the large Lima beans so you can practice number and letter identification. I made a set of upper and lowercase letters to match. My daughter enjoyed finding the pairs of letters and making a few sight words with the letters, starting with her name. My two year old was able to sort sets of letters into two muffin cups. I also made a set of numbers to play with and added some number dots to mimic dice. We love rolling our large dice to build simple equations. My five year old enjoyed coloring some of the beans red with sharpie and I added ladybug details with a black sharpie. These made perfect counters to play with on a green felt leaf. I helped my own mother make a set of ladybug counters for her first grade classroom and I knew I had to make some with my own kids too! Recently, my five year old asked to use the ladybug counters to check her work when I gave her some fill in math equations.

We also tried adding color to the beans by putting a small blob of acrylic paint in a ziplock bag and adding a handful of beans before sealing and then shaking the bag well. Both my children enjoyed shaking the beans in paint and we let them dry on some parchment paper before using them for sorting colors, building patterns, and more counting play. What would you do with dried beans?