How to make rainbow rice and activity suggestions

Smallest Child really enjoys sensory play. We do lots of playing with food and water beads etc. Rainbow rice is a new addition to our sensory play sessions and it’s a real hit! Here’s to how to make rainbow rice, and also some activities that you can do with it.

How to make rainbow rice

How to make rainbow rice | Toddler sensory activity | Free Time with the Kids

Whenever it comes to how to make rainbow rice it seems there are two different camps – with and without vinegar. I think that the vinegar method locks the colour in a bit better. To make the rainbow rice you’ll need rice, vinegar, food colouring, zip lock bags (or a cup) and tissue paper. I used 500g of rice to make the six colours.

Put a table spoon of vinegar in the zip lock bag (although I used a plastic cup instead as I use these for lots of my craft stuff). Add several drops of food colouring. In order to get quite a strong colour I used a lot of food colouring. I wanted to make rainbow rice but quite honestly I’m not sure how I’d have a hope in hell of differentiating between indigo and violet. In the end just opted for generic purple. Sorry! That meant I ended up with six colours instead of seven. Add the rice to the cup and mix until everything is evenly coated.

Once all of the rice has been coated, spread it out on a baking tray that’s been covered with kitchen roll. The ratio of rice to vinegar dictates how long it takes to dry out. I left ours overnight and it was fully dry.

Rainbow rice will keep for years if it’s stored properly. Ideally you should get them to wash their hands before (and after) handling the rice. Make sure that you store it in an airtight container so it doesn’t get damp.

Rainbow rice activity ideas

First of all we talked about each of the different colours. What were they called? Which was her favourite? Does she know what happens when you mix certain colours?

How to make rainbow rice | Toddler sensory activity | Free Time with the Kids

I so wanted her to keep them all separate, but that was never going to happen. It took all of 10 seconds for her to mix them all up. The result is quite pretty though! I did keep some aside though so we could do our first activity:

Rainbow rice art

How to make rainbow rice | Toddler sensory activity | Free Time with the Kids

It seems silly to make rainbow rice and not make a rainbow as well! Just use some PVA to mark out your pattern and sprinkle on the rice. Allow the glue to dry before shaking off the excess rice otherwise it will all fall off.

Rainbow rice baking

One of Smallest Child’s favourite activities to do with rainbow rice is fake baking. We mix up all of the ingredients in mixing bowls and then spoon them into some silicon muffin cases. Off the go to her oven they go. This activity is great for children to practice their hand-eye co-ordination, you can go counting games and talk about which case has the most etc.

Toddler sensory activities | Free Time with the Kids

Small world play

Rainbow rice can also make a really interesting foundation for small world play. Even though they’re playing with the toys they’ve played with a million times before it’s quite interesting how they adapt their games when you add in a new element. Small animals, Happyland figures, Lego figures, Playmobil, dolls etc. They can all work really well.

Letter and number sensory bins

Smallest Child is really starting to get interested in letters and numbers. You can use the rainbow rice to make a letter and/or number sensory bin. Just hide some letters/numbers and name them together as they find each one. We’ve got wooden letters but you can also just use bits of card if you want to.

Now you know how to make rainbow rice you can find some other ideas of sensory bins using rice here.

Toddler sensory bin ideas | Free Time with the Kids

Weighing and measuring

Just like with our STEM water beads games rainbow rice can be used for weighing and measuring activities as well. We’re got a range of old bottles, tubs, funnel etc and Smallest Child absolutely loves filling those up, weighing things out (which also helps with number recognition). You can fill one jar up, transfer it to another and see if it still fills the while thing. Which bottle is the heaviest? Which is the tallest etc?

Rainbow rice sensory shaker

Toddlers and babies love shakers and rain makers. If you use rainbow rice to make yours then no only is there the sound for them to make, they is the added visual interest from the rice. To make a sensory rice shaker simply add a few cm depth of rainbow rice to a clean, clear 500ml bottle. Hot glue the cap on so that there are no accidents and you’re good to go.


Hopefully this has given you some ideas on how to make and use rainbow rice. Don’t forget playing with rainbow rice doesn’t need to be a structured activity for toddlers. You can just as easily give them a bowl and a spoon and they’ll come up with their own games. There really is something very calming about playing with rice. Smallest Child enjoys it so much. We’ve even been known to play with it as 05:30 when she refused to go back to sleep. A nice, calming activity to keep her quiet whilst the rest of the house slept and I nursed my cup of tea through blurry eyes! If you’ve got any other ideas of activities to do with rainbow rice feel free to add a comment below.


You can find lots of other craft activities here on the website, or check out the toddler and under 5′ zone here.

How to make rainbow rice and 7 activity ideas| Toddler sensory activity | Free Time with the Kids

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch contact@freetimewiththekids.com or get in touch via Facebook