Colorful pumpkin seeds are a really fun way to milk every ounce of educative value out of your fall pumpkins! This year, I attempted this for the second time, and it worked amazingly well. The last time I tried it, I used food coloring, and the seeds were spotty and not very vibrant. I had a new process this year, which I'll share with you in this post, as well as what to do with these colorful little gems.
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DIY Colorful Pumpkin Seeds
Food dye is not the key to colorful pumpkin seeds that are great for sensory play. Liquid watercolor is! You can buy liquid watercolors here, or maybe you have some leftover from past projects, like I did. Grab your paints, and let's get started.
1. Clean the pumpkin seeds well. Put them in a strainer, and rinse them until all the pieces of sticky, yellow pumpkin are gone. Spread them out on a cookie sheet and let them air-dry for a couple of hours. They don't need to be completely dry, just not dripping wet.
2. Place a handful of pumpkin seeds in a bowl. If you'd like a lot of one particular color, add more seeds. Then, add a few drops of liquid watercolor. If you don't have a built-in dropper, add about a 1/2 teaspoon of liquid water color. Mix them around with a spoon until all of the seeds are covered. Add more drops of watercolor if needed.
Continue this process in a separate bowl with more seeds and I different color. I chose to make rainbow pumpkin seeds so we could do a sorting activity in the preschool class I teach one day a week.
3. After the seeds have been dyed thoroughly, spread them in a thin layer on a baking sheet. I let them sit in the oven, with the oven OFF but the oven light ON for about two hours. This made them dry enough to touch without staining our hands.
What to do with Dyed Pumpkin Seeds
Color sorting: Mix up all the colors of pumpkin seeds, and have your child sort them into colorful bowls, or onto a sorting mat, like mine.
Art: Use the seeds to make a pattern on a piece of paper. Glue them down with white glue. Or, you can hot glue them onto another pumpkin as an alternative to carving pumpkins.
Sensory Play: Fill a tub with as many of these seeds as you can make, little pumpkins, cinnamon sticks, dried leaves, and pine cones. You'll have sensory play that appeals to the senses of sight, smell, sound, and touch.
Interested in more ideas for you little one? Check out My Little Robins' Idea Nest preschool guides.