After the success of our rainbow slime last year, we made this rainbow barley sensory bin and we’ve only now used up the last of the rainbow barley! The little pearls are silky and gorgeous and reusable for months on end. Rainbow sensory play is a year-round favourite!
This is a great rainbow sensory bin for a mixed age group, especially if you want a sensory material that can be used over and over again. We previously made an edible rainbow sensory bin which is perfect for toddlers (if you don’t mind a bit of a sugar high), and though I wouldn’t advise eating raw barley, at least I knew if a few grains were tasted that they wouldn’t pose a choking hazard. (Though they would probably lead to an upset belly.)
I couldn’t get over how gorgeous the dyed barley was! It looks like a sea of little pearls in gorgeous, bright colours. The kids loved it, too – they had so much fun while developing their fine motor and practical life skills.
How To Make Rainbow Barley
If you’ve ever dyed pasta for another kids’ craft, the process of dying rainbow barley will be very similar.
Mix 1 pound of pearl barley with 1 teaspoon food dye and 1/2 teaspoon rubbing alcohol.
I spread the dyed barley out on several trays and cookie sheets to dry overnight.
How to Make a Rainbow Sensory Bin
I used a large “under the bed” storage container for our sensory container. You’re going to want a flat bin that is wide enough to make stripes of each of the rainbow colours.
Also add in several different manipulatives for the kids to play with – Miss G and I went on a scavenger hunt for brightly coloured kitchen tools. This encourages kids to develop hand strength while extending their play. (You can introduce the bin without the tools at first and then slowly add them in.)
The kids had so much fun identifying the colours, scooping the barley, stirring it up, pouring it from one container to another, running it through their hands, and pretending they were chefs in a fancy kitchen!
We kept this sensory bin together for about a month – for the initial time investment of dying the barley and gathering the materials, the kids got at least 10 hours of play from this rainbow sensory bin
And yes, the barley got everywhere. I mean everywhere. But it was really easy to sweep up – and it made the dust pile REALLY pretty.
What are your kids’ favourite sensory bins?
Check out our collection of Sensory Play ideas.