How to dye corn kernels for play

Sensory learn is such an important part of play for children. Providing them with opportunities to explore sand, water and rice are great ways to help them develop their senses. How about corn kernels! Here are instructions on how to dye corn kernels for play.

How to dye corn kernels for play

Using corn kernels for play

Corn kernels are great for sensory play and are often overlooked. Their larger size, when compared to sand or similar, make them great for children to scoop or transfer from one bucket to another. They also look gorgeous when dyed various colours.

Of course we always avoid wasting food for play, which is why we reuse such food items again and again and again and in various ways of playing. Corn kernels keep really well and so that is another benefit to using them. See a great post by Deborah from Teach Preschool about this topic here as I echo her thoughts completely.

Food colouring to dye corn kernels

How to dye corn kernels for play

You will need –

  • 1/2 cup raw popping corn kernels
  • small zip lock bags (one for each colour you want)
  • food colouring
  • hand sanitiser (optional)

Shaking corn kernels in a bag


Simply add 1 tablespoon of corn kernels to a small zip lock bag. Add 10-15 drops of food colouring to each bag and a pea-sized squirt of hand sanitiser. Shake the bag really well so that the food colouring completely coats the corn kernels. Leave the bag open overnight to dry and the colour to set completely.


As you can see, the corn kernels really adsorb the food colouring and look spectacular! Check out how the blue turned out, it’s almost metallic. Unfortunately coloured corn kernels doesn’t pop into coloured popcorn once cooked. I know because I tried it out. LOL

If you decide you’d like to dye your own corn kernels then I would keep them stored in an air tight storage container when it’s not being played with. Obviously active supervision is always required when playing with small pieces, even corn kernels.

Mixed coloured corn kernels

Playing with corn kernels

There are so many fabulous ways that you can play with corn kernels and you are only limited by your own imagination, or that of your children. The small corn kernels are great for developing fine motor skills, especially when tweezers or tongs are used, and transferring them from one bowl to another, which involves tipping and pouring. A large container or corn kernels can be great for encouraging children to find lost ‘treasure’ and dig to discover and cover to bury various objects. Individual corn kernels could also be used for counting skills or craft activities.

How would your children like to play with dyed corn kernels? 

More posts you’d be interested to see –

Bath Paints using 2 ingredients   Invitation to Play and Create using play dough   SONY DSC

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  1. Vanessa says

    Does the food coloring come off on your hands? My co-teacher and I would like to try this but we want to make sure that it doesn’t color your hands.


    • Kate says

      Hi Vanessa. I left it over night to ensure it dried completely and had no problem, however, Id suggest adding a squirt of hand sanitiser with a few less drops per bag, just to be on the safe side. Have fun!

  2. Kellie says

    Have you ever tried field corn? Trying to get corn dyed for centerpieces for my daughter’s wedding. She was raised on a farm, and her soon to be husband sells seed for a living.


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