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  • Gina

How to Dye a DRY Sensory Base

Before little hands hold a pencil, they should scoop & squish & dump & pour! The more opportunities they have to explore with sensory play, the stronger their fine motor skills will be. The stronger their fine motor skills, the easier it will be for them to learn how to feed themselves, zipper their coat, button their shirt or hold a pencil properly!.

Dyed Fillers work best with these UNCOOKED foods:

  • White rice

  • Pasta of your choice

  • Oats

  • White beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Dry pumpkin seeds

  • Corn kernels

Do you have to dye a sensory base? Absolutely NOT!! Will your kiddos experiences be just as magical without it? YES!

But, if you want to add an extra layer into their sensory play, I promise it is simple to do & a perfect opportunity to let your kiddo in on the fun. By letting them help with the process, they become even more invested in their play because THEY DID IT! How cool is that?!

Here are our THREE favorite ways to dye a dry sensory base:

  1. White vinegar & food coloring

  2. Acrylic paints

  3. Liquid watercolor paints


  • Your uncooked sensory base filler of choice (see above)

  • Food coloring and white vinegar OR Acrylic Paint OR liquid watercolor paints

  • Ziploc bag or container with lid

  • Parchment paper or Foil

  • Baking sheet

How To:

  • Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Set aside.

  • Pour the sensory base into the Ziploc bag or container.

  • Add your color to the base:

    • Food Coloring + Vinegar Method: For every 1 cup of base filler, add 1 tbsp of white vinegar. Then add 5-10 drops of food coloring.

    • Acrylic Paint Method: For every 1 cup of base filler, add 4-5 squirts of paint.

    • Liquid Watercolor Method: For every 1 cup of base filler, add 2-3 tablespoons of liquid watercolor paint.

  • Shake and squish until the color is fully incorporated.

  • If you want the color to be darker, add more food coloring or paint. Shake and squish again!

  • Pour dyed filler onto the lined baking sheet and spread out.

  • Let dry for 30 minutes to an hour. Lay out in the sun if possible & it will dry even quicker!

Let's look at the difference in each method!!

The LEFT side is dyed using the liquid watercolors method.

The MIDDLE is dyed using the white vinegar & food coloring method.

The RIGHT side is dyed using acrylic paint method.

They all work well. It truly depends on your preference & access to materials. See FAQ's below!

Frequently Asked Questions:


Once you make a dry sensory base, store them in an air-tight container and they will last you YEARS!!! You can use a ziploc bag or container with a lid. Keep them dry & you can reuse them over & over again for learning & play!

Which option is most cost effective:

The food coloring & white vinegar method is the most cost-effective option. You only need a small amount of each to dye the sensory base & the colors always turn out vibrant! Paints tend to me more expensive & require more per use.

Does the vinegar option smell?

You will smell the vinegar when the sensory base is wet and still drying. After that, the smell will dissipate!

Do the colors get on kid's hands or surfaces?

NO! Once the sensory base is completely dry, there should be no transfer while you play. If you are seeing colors transfer to your hands or surfaces that your sensory base is not completely dry. If you get a sensory base wet during play, I would discard immediately.

Can you re-dye a sensory base?

You can! If you use a darker color, you can repurpose your sensory base!

*Small items are choking hazards. Always monitor young children during sensory play. You get to decide what is safe & manageable in your home.*


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