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How to Easily Make Colored Rice Perfect for Sensory Bins

You may not have thought about how to dye rice until you decide to make a sensory bin for your preschooler! Making colored rice is an easy and fun way to increase the sensory input within your bin. I love how pretty the colored rice looks when it is separated into colors and when the dyed rice mixes up.

Creating visually stimulating colors is not only fun, but easy to do!

Let’s color rice to make sensory bins!

How to Dye Rice

Through many attempts I have learned how to colour rice and thought it would be fun to share what I have learned through all those trials and sometimes errors. Here are the easy steps to make colored rice as well as some of my top useful tips for making coloured rice for your sensory bins.

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Supplies Needed

Directions to Dye Rice

You can either use liquid or gel food color to dye your white rice. To mix and shake the food color smoothly with rice, we will use some hand sanitizer.

If you don’t have hand sanitizer, you can use alcohol.

Basically, you need a medium that will dilute the food coloring and spread it uniformly over the rice when you shake it.

White rice ready for food dye to become colored rice - Kids Activities Blog
Let’s make some colored rice!

Step 1

Begin by adding a glob or a few drops of food color in the Mason jar.

Step 2

Add a tablespoon of hand sanitizer.

Tip: If you’re using a gel based food color; first stick a chopstick in the middle of the jar to mix the gel and the hand sanitizer together. This will make sure the rice will dye uniformly.

Step 3

Add some cups of rice.

Do not fill the jar up to the brim with rice as you will need some room for mixing. I just filled ¾ of the 1 litre jar with about 3 cups of rice.

Step 4

Shake, shake, shake the rice!

Now this is the fun part! Cover the jar with its lid and shake it until the whole rice is completely coated with the food color.

You can turn the shaking process into a playful game for your kids. Make up a shaking song or dance all over the house as you shake!

Step 5

Pour out the rice into a large bin (preferably one with a cover for easy storage) and let dry.

Step 6

Repeat the process with another color.

Yield: 1 color

Dye Rice for Sensory Bins

Making brightly colored dyed rice is a really fun way to increase the sensory input for your next sensory bin. How to dye rice is a simple process with this easy to follow system.

Active Time
10 minutes

Total Time
10 minutes


Estimated Cost


  • White rice
  • liquid or gel food color
  • hand sanitizer
  • Mason jar or plastic storage bags


  • Large shallow plastic bin with lid for multi-color sensory bin


  1. Add a few drops of color and a tablespoon of hand sanitizer to a mason jar. Stir with a chopstick or plastic utensil to mix together.
  2. Add several cups of rice (fill up to 3/4th the way up the jar or less to allow space to mix).
  3. Cover the jar securely and shake until the color is uniform.
  4. Pour the rice into a large bin to dry.
  5. Repeat process with another color.

What Order to Dye the Rice

When using multiple colors, it’s best to start with the lightest color so that you don’t have to wash the jar each time you use another color.

Fall Sensory Bin for Kids
Oh the pretty rice colors in autumn shades!

Make Fall Colored Rice for an Autumn Sensory Bin

Look for fall colors for inspiration. Reds and yellows from the leaves of the maple tree, brown from the leaves that have floated off the trees, orange from the pumpkins you’ll carve with your children…

Dye the Rice Autumn Colors

As seen in the picture above, we colored rice many autumn shades using food dye. We started with the yellow that turned out a beautiful color of mustard and then several shades of red starting with a pink then adding more color into the purple reds and then several shades of brown.

Place Dyed Rice in Sensory Bin Tub

We then put the different colours of rice into a big tub.

Add Fall Themed Items with Various Textures

Add different kinds of fall paraphernalia such as leaves, cinnamon sticks, kernels, pine cones, and little decorative pumpkins. The goal is to get all sorts of different textures, surfaces and sizes for the kids to explore the sensation of touch within the sensory bin.

Dyed rice in the colors of blue red green and yellow - Kids Activities Blog
Keeping dyed rice from making a big mess may be a challenge…

Keeping Sensory Bin Play from Being a Big Mess

If your children are playing in the house with the rice, consider spreading a sheet under the bin so that it is easy for you to collect the spilled rice later.

If you want to keep the dyed rice colors separate, consider using smaller shoe box sized bins with just a few cups of coloured rice inside.

If you are creating a large sensory bin with multiple colors of dyed rice, we have found that the larger, shallow bins work best for play and storage. My favorite are the under-bed storage containers to allow the kids enough space to play within the bin and then add the lid and store away for another day!

Scented rainbow beans that used dye to color beans different colors and use for sensory bin play
If you loved learning how to dye rice, you may want to try our sensory beans next…

More Sensory Play Ideas from Kids Activities Blog

How did you dye rice? What colours did you use for your rice sensory bin? What colors are you going to try with colored rice next?

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