How to Dye Rice for Sensory Play

Sensory play stimulates young children’s five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. It helps children to learn sensory attributes such as hot, cold, sticky, and wet.

Moreover, sensory play facilitates exploration and learning as children play, create, and investigate. This aids in the child’s language development, memory, cognitive growth, problem solving, and social interaction. The movement and balance involved in sensory play also bolster the child’s fine and gross motor skills. Most importantly, sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child!

Coloured rice is an awesome sensory bin filler. Here’s a simple rice recipe to dye/colour your rice.

Coloured Rice Recipe

What You Need

  • White rice
  • Vinegar* / Lemon Juice
  • Food Colouring*: Get more than one colour for multi-colour effect.
  • For Mixing Colours: Ziploc bags or Containers^
  • For Drying: Kitchen Paper Towels or Tray
  • For Storage: Ziploc bags or Containers^
  • For Playing: Bin and fun bin items like small animals, and small scoops or cups

* I am using Tai Hua/Tiger artificial vinegar (S$1.50) and Bake King’s colouring (S$1.15).

^ Reuse plastic containers such as microwavable food containers and mineral water bottles.


STEP 1: Measure 1 Cup of rice and pour into the ziploc bag/container.

If you want to have more coloured rice, just increase the number of cups and adjust the measurements of the “ingredients” accordingly.

STEP 2: Add 1 Tablespoon of Vinegar/lemon juice into the rice. You’ll get lemon scented rice if you use lemon.

STEP 3: Add 2 Tablespoons of food coloring. Or you can add more tablespoons to get a deeper colour.

You can try making several shades of the same color. Experiment to see how much food colouring to use per cup for your desired shades!

STEP 4: Close the ziploc/container and SHAKE the rice vigorously for a minute or two.

With ziploc bag, you can rub the bag and make sure all the grains get coloured. You’re done when the rice is evenly coated with the food coloring.

STEP 5: Spread the colored rice on a paper towel or a tray. Lay the grains out in a single, even layer to dry.

The rice should dry in an hour if you have one cup per paper towel. Colour is best distributed this way too.

STEP 6: Make sure the rice is dry before you transfer the colored rice to a bin for sensory play.

After playing, just keep them in a ziploc or container for future play. Have fun!

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