As a former teacher, I constantly think about ways to teach my daughter. I believe there are lots of benefits to both traditional education styles and learning through play. My daughter definitely learns by doing, so sensory activities are always a huge hit with her. They’re also a hit with me because I know how much learning is going on in her little mind! This homemade rainbow rice checks all of the important boxes for learning. Plus it’s fun, super easy and inexpensive to make, and you can use it over and over again!
learning should be fun!
One thing that I think happens a lot when teaching children is that the fun is taken out of the equation. When you think about what makes you learn, chances are, some of the best opportunities were those that engaged you and got you excited to learn! Kids are definitely the same way. When something is novel and fun, engagement goes through the roof. Even better, the more engaged the are, they longer they play at one time. That’s a total win in my book!
rainbow rice makes the ordinary extraordinary
So how do you make rainbow rice? I honestly waited over a year to try to make this because I was so intimidated. I convinced myself that it was going to be super time consuming or difficult. Boy was I wrong!! It’s not hard AT ALL! Follow the quick steps below and you’ll be on your way to playing with rainbow rice in no time!
Here’s what you’ll need
- several cups of white rice (the more colors you want, the more rice you’ll need
- Non-toxic, washable paint (I use Tempura paint that I got at Walmart)
- A jar or bag to mix the rice and paint
- A few paint safe plates or aluminum pans
- A 32 quart or bigger bin for playing
- A large jar or ziplock bag to store the rice in afterwards
How do you make rainbow rice?
Once you gather the supplies, you’ll make one color at a time. The process is the exact same each time.
- Put 1.5 cups of white rice in your jar or bag (I used the jar because it’s what I had on hand, I could reuse it, and didn’t waste a bunch of bags this way)
- Add a squirt of the first paint color. Start with a little and then add more until you get the color how you want.
- Put the lid on the jar/seal the bag and then shake it all around. My daughter loved helping with this step! She got so excited to watch the rice change colors before her eyes!
- Pour the painted rice onto a plate or tray and spread it out. I had a couple aluminum pans on hand and they worked perfectly.
- Let it sit for 30min-1 hour to dry.
- If you used a jar to mix, be sure to wash it right away. I added a drop of soap, a little water, put the lid on, and just shaking it around was enough to clean it.
- Once the rice is dry, there will be clumps. Use your hands to break them up.
- Repeat for as many colors as you want to make!
- Pour the rice into a large storage bin (I use a 32 qt one I found at Target). Add some scoops, bowls, and toys and let your kids play! I have a quick mom hack over on this post for how to keep the mess contained.
- When they are done playing, either leave the rainbow rice in the storage bin with the lid, or store it in a jar or bag. We use ours over and over again!
I went through this process step-by-step on my Instagram Stories. Watch here if you have questions about any of the steps! My daughter has loved having this fun , vibrant rainbow rice to play with.
Ideas for sensory bin play
Once you make the rainbow rice, here are some ideas for playing with it:
- Give them measuring cups and bowls to scoop around
- Bury little toy figurines in the rice and have them “hunt” for them
- Bury toy animals and have them use tongs to “rescue the animals”
- Give them some kitchen supplies to play chef and use the rainbow rice as the food
- Add an ice cube tray and ask them to count out a certain number of each color of rice.
- Just let them dig around in it!
The sky is really the limit when it comes to sensory bins. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to get updates when we post more fun activities like this one! If you try out this recipe, let us know in the comments!!