Making your own rainbow rice is really easy! You only need plain rice and paint. There are a few different ways to make colored rice and we have tried them all. This method is our favorite.
RELATED: How to Make Playdough
How to Make Rainbow Rice
To make your own sensory dyed rice you only need plain rice and paint.
You’ll also want to have on hand:
- 6 large ziploc bags (one for each color)
- Acrylic paint (non-toxic)
- Wax or parchment paper for drying
A large storage container for placing the rice in (we used a 28 quart bin)
Measuring cups, spoons and other materials to play with the rice once done.
Watch the Video Tutorial
Why use acrylic paint over food coloring?
We have made rainbow rice with food coloring and liquid watercolors before. If doing the food coloring method, most recipes either call for added vinegar (which can smell) or to bake the rice (an added step). Food coloring is also a lot more messy to work with. It can stain your surfaces and is harder to clean up.
Liquid watercolors are another option but we found we had to use a lot of the liquid watercolor bottle to get the same coverage and vibrancy that acrylic paint will give you. And the cost of liquid watercolors is usually much higher than acrylic paint.
Is this rice taste safe?
While most paint is non-toxic, we do not recommend using paint for little ones that may want to taste the rice. If you have a younger toddler that still puts things in their mouth, then using food coloring is a better option. You can follow the same method with food coloring. Just be mindful that food coloring can stand surfaces when still wet so protect your surfaces while using it.
How to Dye Rice
To substitute with food coloring, instead of adding paint, add your food coloring to the recipe below. You can add a teaspoon of vinegar for every cup of rice.
Ways to use colored rice:
- Use kitchen tools like measuring cups and funnels for play
- Add play toys like plastic dinosaurs, bugs or or mini dump trucks
- Use recycled materials like paper towel rolls and little boxes or washed margarine containers
Add 3 cups of rice into a large ziploc bag.
Start with a large squirt of paint to start. Smoosh around in the bag until the rice is fully covered. It’s better to add less paint and keep adding as needed. The less paint you have to coat the rice, the better as it will be less likely to stick together. Keep adding until the rice is fully covered and there is no longer any white rice.
Once completely mixed, lay the rice out flat onto a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray.
Let the rice dry for 1-2 hours. If still wet, make sure the rice is lying flat to allow the paint to dry.
Repeat the above for each color you would like to make. We made red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
Rinse out your ziploc bags after use and store for making rainbow rice again. Or you can use the bags for storing craft supplies.
If you find mixing 3 cups of rice to be too much in one bag, you can do the rice in 2 batches by putting 1.5 cups of rice in the bag at a time.
If you have a smaller sensory bin to fill, cut back on the amount of rice needed.
Rice will keep for at least one month but we have had our sensory rice for much longer.
Keep stored in a cool, dry place.
We love how easy this rainbow rice is to make. And this is by far the easiest way to get the most vibrant colors of rice!
More Rainbow Sensory Play Ideas
Another favorite rainbow sensory play idea is to make our own homemade playdough.
Try this easy to make cloud dough recipe!