Make Rainbow Rice in 5 Minutes!

So, as a mom of only one kid so far, I basically learn about all the things that kids can play with as Lola hits each developmental milestone. And while I’ve known about sensory bins for the past year, it’s only been recently that Lola’s really gotten interested in them. For those of you who don’t know, “sensory bins” are just bins or boxes of just about anything that feels cool/fun to touch (like water, sand, uncooked beans and rice or pasta, pom poms, etc.) and then you give them a bunch of scoops and bowls and just let them dig/sort/squish/pour their way through the different textures—they love it! We tried it last summer but Lola was too interested in eating the uncooked food items, so we had to back off and wait until that instinct passed and she wasn’t interested in trying to eat them anymore, and now she loves it! I had been using uncooked white rice in her sensory play, but then I saw that you can dye the rice fun colors and pretty quickly I knew I needed to give that a try as well. 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)
-wax paper
-plastic baggie

Add 1 cup of your uncooked rice to a small plastic bag 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. It feels dry in under an hour, but I waited until the next day to use and mixed it around a few times with my hands to make sure it was good and dry to avoid molding once in a container.

Here’s all my colors drying—how pretty is that?!

Ahhhh, I love it. …You can also color 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 is supposed to help preserve the rice and keep it from getting moldy longer, so that’s up to you! 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. You can put this rice in a bin when you want to play with it (I love these bowl and scoops) 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!

Another fun idea is to pair the color with items you want to play with, like using green for grass with some barn animals or some blue with some sea creatures … so many fun ways to play and I love these bowls and scoops for playing (again, make sure your kid is past the stage of trying to eat everything they see for this activity). Can’t wait to use this rice for lots of fun afternoons! xo. Laura

Credits//Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • 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 🙂

  • My kids would LOVE making this! Totally doing this with them when they wake up!


  • 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

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