Magic Coloured Beans Sorting Activity

Make some magic coloured beans as a great DIY resource for sorting, counting, imaginative play and storytelling! These are so simple to make and are hugely appealing to play with. Hoe to make magic coloured beans for counting and sorting play

We made a new play, counting and sorting resource by simply turning white butter beans into magically coloured rainbow beans! They kids couldn’t stop touching them and loved playing with them in their games. I tried two types of paint on the dry butter beans before using brightly coloured Sharpie markers, which worked perfectly and dried really quickly! (Yes I did get my hands messy making these but they were worth it!)

Magic coloured beans for counting and sorting

I coloured 10 beans in each colour of the rainbow, then painted 10 little compostable potting pots to match, using paint. How to make magical coloured beans for math and sensory play

Then I mixed them up and laid them out on a piece of black felt as a sharp contrasting background, with the pots next to them,  and let the kids to play!

Coloured magic beans for sensory play

I couldn’t stop my 5 year old from playing with these even though she knows how to sort and name her colours by now, but she loved them and enjoyed counting them out and seeing if she could count up the total amount of beans altogether. Another way to extend for this age would be to ask them to add together the contents of the red and the blue pots, or take away the yellow pot of beans from the purple and orange etc.

Invitation to count and sort coloured magic beans

Miss 2 seemed to understand exactly what she could do with this set up and she sorted the beans slowly but accurately into the coloured pots, trying to name them when she could remember them!

Sorting coloured magic beans activity

Miss 4 sorted them quickly then tipped them out, lined them up and started to count them into groups, finding out that in one set I had made an extra one!

Coloured beans counting activity

These beans would be the perfect addition to a playful retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, or as an exciting and magical story starter! I think we may use them for that one day very soon, with Miss 5 really interested in stories at the moment.

They are a great resource to pop in a container and store along with the Playdough Tool Kit, craft pieces and paints, ready to pull out and count, play and sort with at any moment!

See all our other cheap and easy DIY Play Resources here

See a whole series of Playful Maths ideas here

What they are learning as they play:

maths: sorting by one attribute, counting, using 1:1 correspondence, matching by colours, simple addition

physical: pincer grasp, coordination, lifting and dropping small objects

creativity: using one object to represent another during play, imaginative play and storytelling

Cakie: 5.8

Pop: 4.1

Bean: 2.2

* Please note: always and only use small materials like these with children who will not put them in their mouths. Uncooked beans should not be eaten. *



  1. says

    Fantastic idea! Will be colouring beans over the holidays ready for Sept with my class. Will really help those needing more concrete resources, will be useful when teaching fractions too!