How to Dye Rice for a Sensory Bin

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Dying rice is such a fun and incredibly easy way to add a little fun to playtime with your kids! Learn how to dye rice for a sensory bin with just 3 ingredients!

tray of rainbow rice for sensory bins

You’ve probably seen some beautiful photos of brightly colored dyed rice floating around Pinterest and Instagram. When it comes to sensory play for preschoolers and toddlers, rice makes a fantastic addition to sensory bins!

Dying colored rice for sensory play is easier than you think! This quick and simple process is so easy to do and helps you make beautiful colors for whatever sensory play activities are on your mind.

This easy step by step tutorial will show you how to dye rice for sensory bins and other sensory activities.

Your kids will have such a blast digging around and playing with the dyed rice in their sensory bins (and you’ll feel like mom of the year when you see how painless and simple this process truly is).

Love sensory activities? Don’t miss How to Dye Pasta for Crafts and How to Make Sensory Bags!

image shows a baking sheet with red and green dyed rice

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How to Dye Rice for Sensory Play

Rice play provides such a cool sensory experience for kids with the different textures they’re able to experience. Not only is it crazy easy to dye rice, but the best part is you can dye it in the morning and it’s ready to go for an afternoon sensory bin! Just follow these easy steps:

Supplies Needed to Dye Rice:

image shows ingredients needed to dye rice

Uncooked white rice

Rubbing alcohol or white vinegar

Food Coloring

Plastic Ziploc freezer storage bags

Parchment Paper

Cookie Sheet

How to Make Colored Rice:

Dying rice is SO easy. Start by adding a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to a gallon freezer bag. White vinegar also works great, but I personally don’t like the vinegar smell and feels like it lingers.

Don’t have either of these? You can use hand sanitizer in a pinch, too! Not a fan of using a plastic bag? Friends have dyed their rice in a reusable plastic container as well.

Next, add a few drops of food coloring (or a few squirts of gel food coloring) to the bag, swirling and gently shaking to mix it well with the clear liquid. Add as much food coloring as you want! The more food coloring you add, the deeper or brighter your dyed rice will be.

Add 1 cup of uncooked plain white rice to the bag. Seal it and shake the rice vigorously for about a minute to make sure it’s evenly coated with the food coloring. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to absorb all the colored liquid, then spread on a baking sheet or cookies sheets covered with wax paper or parchment paper to dry.

image shows bags filled with colored rice

If you don’t have either of these, you can use paper towels, too. The drying time will depend on the amount of rice you use. More cups of rice equals a longer time needed to be ready for play.

If you’re unsure of how much dry time you’ll need, an easy approach is dying it after your kids go to sleep and letting the rice dry overnight. You can also dye your rice first thing in the morning and it should be good to go for an afternoon of sensory bin fun.

Once it’s totally dry, it’s ready to go for your next sensory bin adventure! Just add the colored rice to a shallow bin and fill with treasures.

image shows two christmas themed sensory bins

Be sure to store your rice in an airtight container with a tightly fitting lid or ziplock bag so you can reuse it over and over again. The colorful rice will last quite a while this way!

I dyed this rice red and green to make a fun Christmas sensory bin for my boys. I added items from the dollar store like big bells, plastic ornaments and pom poms, as well as little scoops and jars for scooping. The bright colors of the rice were a huge hit!

image shows children playing in sensory bins

They had such a blast exploring their Christmas themed sensory bin and played independently for over an hour and had so much fun! It was a really great way to kick off a new holiday season of crafting fun.

Here is some rainbow rice I dyed for a spring Easter sensory bin, too!

rainbow rice mixed together after being dyed with food coloring and rubbing alcohol or vinegar

You can dye rice in any combination of colors! Use orange and black for a Halloween sensory bin, or white and shades of blue for a winter themed polar bear sensory bin or this fun Winter in a Bag Sensory Play Activity!

More Christmas Crafts:

Giant Gingerbread Man Christmas Craft

DIY Christmas Crafts for Toddlers

Dying Rice for Sensory Bin Play is Quick & Easy!

Dying rice is a fun way to make your sensory bins extra special and truly adds to the creative play. The possibilities are endless with what you add to your own bins and this easy recipe makes it very doable to dye a ton and fill an entire sensory table!

Dye your rice around a certain theme, like pink and red for Valentines Day or green rice for St. Patrick’s Day and add fun treasures to make a themed play area. You could even create a sensory bin with your kids favorite colors or current obsession (like dinosaurs, sea creatures or ponies).

hand holding rainbow rice that's been dyed with food coloring for sensory bin

Dye multiple bags of rice at a time to create beautiful rainbow rice for a variety of sensory bin set ups! You can even add essential oils to create a beautiful smelling sensory experience.

If you use this rice recipe, be sure to let me know! It’s the easiest way I’ve found to create really memorable play experiences and is a fun way to mix things up.

What is your favorite sensory activity you’ve created with brightly dyed rice?

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