Rainbow Rice for Sensory Bin
An instant hit in my house, "rainbow rice" fills your sensory bin with a colorful twist on an old classic that that has long lasting play value across multiple ages.
Taste safe, this rainbow rice recipe is great for even the littlest of hands to explore and encourages motor skills, creative play, exploration, and experimentation for kids of all ages. At the end of the post you will find some suggestions for age appropriate play and activities, but first let's go over how to make some of your own!
What you will need:
Long Grain White Rice
1cup Measuring Cup
Food Storage Container with Lid
Waxed or Parchment Paper (optional)
First, decide how much rice you would like to make. I wanted oodles, so I used 2 cups of rice for each color (I made 6 different colors.)
Measure and add your rice for your first color into your food container, then add 10-20 drops of food coloring for each cup of rice you've used. Obviously, for more pastel colors use less, for more bold, use more! Keep in mind the rice does fade over time.
Pro tip: To make orange/purple or other color that requires mixing your food coloring, mix the food coloring in a separate small dish before adding to the rice. Yes, it's an extra step but it leads to more even coloring.
Then add 1/2 tsp of white vinegar for each cup of rice. Snap on the lid and shake it up! This is a great step for younger kids to do. We turned on some music and used it as percussion while we danced and jumped and generally indulged our goofiness.
Then spread the rice on your baking sheet to dry. Lining it with wax or parchment paper will make it much easier to transfer later, so I recommend it.
Finding a sunny spot will help the rice dry faster. I found that putting it outside in direct sunlight meant each batch was dry by the time I was ready to spread out the next.
Once dry, pour your Rainbow Rice in separate bowls, or add directly to your bin! Personally I got a lot of "learning" milage from having the colors separated first.
Add the rice to your sensory bin! (Here is my post on making your own sensory bin with interchangeable bins!)
Ours started out as a rainbow (another opportunity to talk and learn) before quickly becoming all mixed together.
My toddler quickly found the rainbow rice bin made the perfect construction site.
Here are some other ideas for using your rainbow rice for different ages:
Babies will enjoy simply feeling this rice on their hands and watching and engaging with you or older children as they play. They can pick up fistfuls, fling it around, give it a taste (no, they shouldn't be eating it by the handful but if some makes it in their mouths, it's no big deal) and otherwise experimenting with this rice. You may find they are fascinated by simply watching you scoop, pour, and rake your hands through the rice. You can also pour the rice onto their hands for a unique sensation. And talk, talk, talk! Babies learn SO much just from hearing you talk about the world around them. This is a great chance to talk about so many things as you play together - colors, hands, in and out, on and off, under and on top, scooping, pouring, big and small... you get the idea!
Toddlers will enjoy practicing scooping, pouring, and dumping. Have on hand cups, funnels, slotted spoons, etc to let them experiment. Also good to have on hand - your dust buster! They will also enjoy games of hide and seek where you take turns burying small objects and then digging them up. Imaginative play can be fun, too. Try tossing in trucks etc for a construction sight, or animals for a zoo. Pipe cleansers, pom poms, feathers, etc can add some additional textures and you will be surprised what they become in the hands of your creative little one. And just like with the babies, use this time to talk about all you are doing. It's amazing what they will absorb and learn.
The Pre-K troupe will really be honing in on their fine motor skills. You can challenge them with pouring into smaller spouted containers, have races to see who can find 5 pieces of rice of one color first, or give them some undirected time to come up with some imaginative games of their own.
Depending on their age your older kids may be less impressed by a bucket of rice, however you can still challenge them in a family game of picking out certain colors of rice and make it trickier by requiring them to do it with chop sticks! You can use an old egg carton to see who can get the most of each color in the shortest time, etc. Or put your big kid to work, engaging a younger sibling in play.