Rainbow Rice

Do your children love helping you in the kitchen?  My little Piggies can’t get enough of the measuring cups, spoons, funnels, and their favorite has to be the wire whisk.  Sometimes I welcome their help, while other times, I just need to get it done without taking 10 minutes to measure and count 5 Cups of flour.

Cue the Rainbow Rice!  

Make your own rainbow rice for your sensory box with an easy, quick recipe found at This Little Pig Stayed Home.com

Here’s my solution!  Rainbow Rice.

Have you ever been to a Warehouse store and seen 25 pound bags of rice and wonder who would buy that besides a Chinese Restaurant?  Or have you purchased one and then realized you’ll be eating rice for the next 5 years? Here’s what you can do with all that white grainy goodness.  colored rice 1

First, measure out your rice into bags.  I put 1 Cup of rice into each bag.  The next thing you’ll need is food coloring.  I happen to have a box of gel food dye in about 12 colors.  You can use liquid dye, but you’ll have to make your own colors.  colored rice 2

The next thing you’ll need is a liquid medium that will allow the dye to flow easily around the rice, but will not hang around for long.  Alcohol is the perfect solution!  It will stay wet long enough to help the dye color the rice, but will evaporate without turning on the oven.  (In fact, please DO NOT put this rice in the oven!  You’ve been warned!  Alcohol + hot element = house fire.)

Side note:  If you are afraid that your children will put this in their mouth, or if you want to make it edible, do not use alcohol.  You’ll want to use white vinegar instead.  I personally don’t like to use it because the rice will smell from now until the second coming.  But, of course, if you are afraid of them eating it, you may not care about the smell.

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I added 1 big glob of dye (the size of my pinky nail), and 2 tsp of alcohol.  I’m not sure you could get this wrong.  If you add too much alcohol, it will just take longer to evaporate.  If you add too much dye, it will be a super rich/dark color.  No harm, no foul.

Next, leave some air in the bag, zip it up, turn on some music, and let your kids dance around like crazy people.  It only takes about a minute per  bag to disperse the colors.
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Here we are shaking like maniacs!  colored rice 5

Here’s where I made a mistake.  I lined up all my rice on one tray to dry.  Looks pretty, but not a great idea.  You have to turn the rice occasionally to help it dry faster, but the dye is still somewhat liquid.  I could see right away that this would be a problem.  I transferred 1/2 the rice to another try, but the colors had already started to run together.  That batch of rice ended up not nearly as bright.  Imagine mixing all the colors together.  You’ll basically end up with a big pile of brown rice.  Not pretty.

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I put my two trays outside to dry in the sun while we napped.  This is the tray with the bright colors that didn’t get mixed together as much.  I lined my trays with foil to help with cleanup.  Colored Rice 7

If you look closely, you can see that some of the rice in this picture is more bright than the rest.  I combined the dulled rice with the bright rice.  It all worked out in the end.  I just wanted to save you from yucky dull brown rice.

Piggy Two loves to hide his cars in the rice.  He would cover them up and hold up his hands as if to say, “Where did it go?”  He’d dig it out and shout, “There it is!!!”  Over and over and over again.

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I put a plastic table cloth on the floor to make cleanup easier.  We took it to the beach with us this past week, and they were able to play with the rice outside on the patio when not playing in the sand.



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This was Piggy Two’s first experience with the rice.  Can you tell he was excited??

So here’s the recipe if you want to make your own rice.


  • 1 Cup Rice
  • 1 drop of food coloring
  • 2 tsp rubbing alcohol (Use white vinegar if you are afraid of children eating it.  This method may require drying it out in a low temp. oven.)


  • Add rice to a zip-lock bag.
  • Add food coloring and alcohol.
  • Close bag with air inside the bag and shake.
  • Spread a thin layer of rice out onto a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Let the alcohol evaporate.  Outside drying time is faster.

Hope you enjoy making rainbow rice with your kiddies!



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