Scoop it.
Measure it.
Throw it with glee from corner to corner.

RICE, baby! The ultimate sensory bin filler!

Plain rice is fun, but dyed rice is even better. And you aren't gonna believe how incredibly easy it is to step your rice up to the next level.

All you need is:
  • white rice (obviously)
  • craft paint, food coloring or liquid watercolors
  • rubbing alcohol
Okay, now I hate to say it, but this is a total eyeball-it game. I always get ticked off when I read a "recipe" that says to eyeball anything, so I know this feels terrible, but trust me. It's pretty much impossible to screw up. Stick with me--we are going to dump some of everything in a gallon Ziplock baggie and like magic you will find yourself up to your elbows, or at least wrists, in sensory perfection.

First, rice. The cheap stuff. The amount all depends on how much you wanna end up with. I usually split the biggest grocery store bag of rice between 3 or 4 baggies (so I can make 3 or 4 colors) to make enough to have fun with in our giant under-the-bed storage container sensory bin. So, I'm guessing 2-3 cups per bag if you wanna make as much as I do.

Second, you have to make a choice--paint or food coloring?

Paint gives you endless possibilities. There are hundreds of different colors and it's super cheap. Downside? When it dries, it leaves a little powdery residue. It's no big deal. Kinley doesn't even notice, but just thought you should know ;) I've just recently been trying the paint method and I love it. You can make neon or even glow in the dark rice! Wouldn't that be cool for Space Week? :)

Food coloring is the other option and it's pretty dang great, too. No residue with this option, nice and smooth. The color choices are pretty limited, but the ones that are available make the rice super saturated and vibrant.

Whatever you choose, the rice will be perfect! What's my favorite method? Hmmm, I think paint because I love a good color scheme. Or food coloring because the texture is incredible. Bah, I don't know. Helpful, right? ;)

Just squirt a big stripe of paint or about 10 drops of food coloring on top of the rice. I know, I know. Great super accurate tip, huh? Just stick with me.

Okay, moving on! Rubbing alcohol. Some people swear by vinegar instead, but the rice doesn't ever really lose all of that funk. Rubbing alcohol loses its smell as soon as it's dry--and I guess I should mention, that's the reason we need it in the first place. The rubbing alcohol helps the rice dry out quickly so it doesn't get all gummy and sticky. Just squirt about a tablespoon in the bag on top of the rice and paint/food coloring.

Now, squeeze the air out of the bag and shut it tight. The fun is about to begin! If you've got a wiggly, anxious-to-play-with-the-fun-new-sensory-stuff kiddo on your hands, pass that closed super tight baggie over to him and have him shake and mush the rice until it is covered with color. If it's not saturated enough for you, or there's any white rice left, just squirt some more coloring in the bag and do some more shaking and smushing. If it looks like it's too dry and the color isn't really spreading, add a couple more drops of rubbing alcohol.

Once the color is just how you want it, spread the rice out on paper towels or wax paper. I like to put paper towels inside a cookie sheet so the edges can contain it. All you need to do now is just wait. I like to stir it up a couple of times when I use the paint method so the grains don't stick together as much, but you don't really have to do that. Once it's dry the grains separate really easy if you just squeeze them between your fingers.

That's it! It usually takes about an hour or two to dry all the way and it's ready for playing. I like to add scoops or measuring cups, sand toys, even a pitcher and cups to practice pouring and have a pretend tea party.

If you want to dye pasta, you just do the exact same thing as you do with rice, except I haven't attempted it with paint, only food coloring. It just seems like it would have a better chance of getting gummy and gross. Alcohol, food coloring, noodles, shake and smush, dry. Done!

What do you think? Are you gonna attempt some pretty rice/pasta making even with all the annoying eyeball its? You got this! :)


  1. This is so fun! My kids would go gaga over a green rice bin this week. Maaaaybe I'll do one for st. pattys!