My daughter loves her sensory bin. For those of you who don’t know, sensory bins are bins or boxes filled with things that are fun to touch and feel, like sand, uncooked beans, rice, pom poms, and more.
Then, you give your child a bunch of scoops and bowls and let them dig/sort/squish/pour their way through the different textures.
I had been using uncooked white rice for Lola’s sensory play, but then I saw that you can dye the rice fun colors, and pretty quickly I knew it was time to make rainbow rice!
Related: For more kids activities and printables check out Childhood Magic!
There are lots of ways to dye the rice, but I went with a super quick version (only takes 5 minutes to mix up!) that lasts the longest, so I’ll show you what I did.
-1 cup of white uncooked rice
-1 teaspoon white vinegar
-food coloring (gel or regular)
Step One. Add 1 cup of uncooked rice to a small plastic baggie and add a few drops of food coloring to the bag. If using gel coloring, you’ll only need a tiny bit.
Step Two. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the bag, seal the top, and shake up the bag to mix the color around the rice.
Step Three. When the color is evenly mixed, dump it out onto a piece of wax paper, spread it out thinly, and let it dry.
How Long Does The Rice Take to Dry?
The rice will feel dry in under an hour, but you can also wait until the next day to use it.
I mixed it around a few times with my hands to make sure it was good and dry to avoid molding before storing it in a container.
Can I Make Rainbow Rice Without Vinegar?
You can make rainbow rice by skipping the vinegar and adding a few drops of paint to the bag instead of the food coloring. But the addition of the vinegar helps preserve the rice and keeps it from getting moldy longer.
I didn’t really notice a smell of vinegar once the rice was dry (and I have a pretty sensitive nose), if you are wondering about that.
It also seems like the paint method coats the rice in a more opaque way while the dye looks a little more translucent, so that’s also a visual preference.
How Do I Store Rainbow Rice?
You can put your rainbow rice in a sensory bin like this when you want to play with it and then keep it in an airtight container when not in use to preserve the lifespan.
I know some people have gotten years of use from one batch, so it’s possible to keep it for a long time. Can’t wait to use this rice for lots of fun afternoons! xo. Laura
P.S. Check out 100 Activities to Do with Kids for more ideas!
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Get the How-To
- 1 cup white rice (uncooked)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- food coloring (gel or regular)
- wax paper
- plastic baggie
- Add 1 cup of uncooked rice to a small plastic baggie and add a few drops of food coloring to the bag. If using gel coloring, you’ll only need a tiny bit.
- Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the bag, seal the top, and shake up the bag to mix the color around the rice.
- When the color is evenly mixed, dump it out onto a piece of wax paper, spread it out thinly, and let it dry. The rice will feel dry in under an hour, but you can also wait until the next day to use it.
- Keep your rice in an airtight container when not in use to preserve the lifespan. I know some people have gotten years of use from one batch, so it’s possible to keep it for a long time!
Also good for filling up homemade sensory bottles/rainmakers. Plus if you add little toys and other knick-knacks to the bottle you then have a seek and find toy.
Beautiful! At my daughters sensory class the coordinator adds essential oils to the rice too! Lavender was so relaxing and lovely. I’ve made ‘moon sand’ at home and added lavender too 🙂
I love that you’re sharing a post like this. Sensory bins help with children’s development. One of their strongest senses for learning when they’re young is through touch. Thanks for the share.
Doesn’t it make you twitch when they mix all the colors? Lol! I feel like I’d only be able to give them to my Little one color at a time! Haha
So pretty! I’ve done this lots with my kids over the years, both with rice and pasta for making necklaces and other projects. We have always used alcohol (either vodka or just rubbing alcohol) because it evaporates faster and we can move on to our project sooner. Just a tip in case someone is really adverse to vinegar 🙂 It’s fun for kids to smoosh the baggie and watch the colors change!
I’d love to know where you found your little bowls and scoops?! Thanks for sharing this!! Pinning for the next rainy day 🙂
I just linked them in the last paragraph!
My kids would LOVE making this! Totally doing this with them when they wake up!
I think it’s this brand but I would just try whatever you have on hand or can find easily 🙂
Which brand of dyes did you use?
Gosh, this is so pretty! As a rice fiend (I’m Chinese, after all), this excites me so much, haha! 😀
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog