It was time to replace the colored rice I use in my sensory bin. It had seen plenty of fingers, for starters, but the final death knell sounded when a curious preschooler added a cup of water to the bin.
Colored rice is certainly not a new hot fad, and it certainly isn’t difficult, but for those of you who may just be starting your foray into sensory media, I thought I’d show how to add some color to this sensory staple.
Start out with a large Ziplock bag. (Make sure it’s a good one. I like to reuse bags, particularly for non-food items like this, but that’s how I ended up with green fingers for part of a day.) Add a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol spreads out the color, but dries much faster than water, keeping your rice from getting soggy. (Soggy. Like my old rice.) Next, add your coloring. Food coloring works great. The more you add, the more intense your color will be. Add your rice to that, seal, and work the liquid through to coat the grains.
Pour the rice out onto a cookie sheet, wax paper, newspaper, or other protected surface. With a utensil or gloved hand, spread the rice out to dry.
Allow the rice to dry for a few hours. I usually leave it overnight to be safe. Once it’s dry, you’re ready to play! Use colors separately or mix it up for a colorful, confetti look.
You can use the same technique to create colored pasta (great for a sensory medium or for pasta sculptures like we did here). I like to color rice and pasta, not just to add that extra appeal, but also to help define boundaries for sensory play. With those bright colors, it becomes easier to explain which rice is for playing with and which rice is for eating.
If you’re just starting out with sensory play, you might be interested in:
A Handful of Fun: Why Sensory Play is Important for Preschoolers
Setting Boundaries with Sensory Play
Sensory Play Inspiration to Get You Going
Registration closes September 12th! Get your spot today — and remember to use the TEAM discount to register you and your partner for less than the cost of one!
We’ve done a lot of sensory play but believe it or not haven’t ever done it with rice. Thanks for the quick tutorial.
Cathie J says
Love doing this. Good reminder and hope the kids enjoy all the rice you have ready for them.
cathie at toddlersthroughpreschool.com
Beautiful colors! I need to whip a batch of new rice this year!
Just be careful where you leave it to dry overnight!! I made many batches of beautifully colored pasta using the same technique described here and put it out in my garage (on top of my cars) to dry overnight. When I came out the next morning there was not ONE piece of pasta in my WHOLE garage! Apparently I fed the resident mice families (whom I did NOT know where living there!)!! This led to an entire CLEAN THE GARAGE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM project the next weekend and rid the garage of the mice!!
Oh my goodness, Wendi! That is hilarious and horrifying all at the same time! I often put mine in a cool oven to dry — just to save on counter space — and I often worry about forgetting and burning it all when I preheat for something else. I think I’d take that over mice though!
Thanks for this!! We just started on our “sensory journey,” so this is perfect!
Michael Lombardi says
Awesome. Quick and simple. Thanks for the tut.