How to Use Rainbow Rice with Toddlers – Busy Toddler

How to use rainbow rice with toddlers:


How to use rainbow rice with toddlers:

How do you use rainbow rice with toddlers successfully?

Let me tell you who goes together like peas and carrots: toddlers and rainbow rice. They’re absolutely made for each other (I really wanted to type MFEO but I’m pretty sure that’ll show just how old I am…).

RELATED: Looking for more fun indoor activities for kids? Check out this list!

Two toddlers play with rainbow rice

Sensory bins and Toddlers: a recipe for awesome

I love sensory bins with toddlers – there is no secret there.

Sensory bins (while daunting to consider at first) are one of the best activities for little kids. Why? Thanks so much for asking. Sensory pack a full punch of learning.

When a child is using a sensory bin, they are using or working with:

  • Mathematical thinking
  • Spatial awareness
  • Problem solving
  • Scientific understandings
  • Experimenting skills
  • Imaginary play
  • Impulse control

YES. All those skills are being hones and developed when a toddler uses a sensory bin. These bins are magic.

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Let’s make a rainbow rice sensory bin for toddlers

The first time I saw rainbow rice on Pinterest, I said “No one has time for that.”

The second, third, and 19th times, I also said “Seriously!!! Who has time to dye rice?!”

By the 31st time, I said “You know what, I’m trying this just to prove this is not an accessible activity for toddler parents.”

And that my friends is the story of how I learned my rainbow rice lesson: it’s easy and it is accessible to toddler parents AND it truly engages kids in the making & playing process.

Two toddlers play with rainbow rice


I used up a whole headline font on that message, so may it hit home.

This stuff is the best.

For each color, follow this recipe:

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  • 6 cups rice
  • 6 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • Lots of squirts of food coloring (favorite kind)
  • Shake shake shake in a resealable bag or container

Repeat for as many colors as you like, just stay within the 1:1 ratio of vinegar to rice (this helps preserve the rice, bind the color so nothing gets on hands, and keep the bugs away).

Set each color on a plate or cookie sheet to dry about 1-2 hours. The kids love making the rainbow rice with me and watching as it dries – such a good lesson in delayed gratification.

Two toddlers play with rainbow rice

Time to use rainbow rice with toddlers

Putting together this bin was a piece of cake.

I used my 28 qt bin from Target and dumped in our rainbow rice. I added 3 jars and a few old formula scoops (those are great – save yours or ask to friend to save for you).

I’m not kidding: that’s it. The set up is done.

Now it’s time for the kids to play – and play they did!

Two toddlers play with rainbow rice

Let your toddlers play with their rainbow rice however they want

There is no “activity” here – no right or wrong. Let them explore, create, imagine, and learn from this beautiful rice.

Sit back. Sip your coffee. Watch the magic of rainbow rice with toddlers unfold.

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But won’t they make a mess?!

The first time, they might. Here’s what you’re going to do:

Give firm, clear, and consistent boundaries: This is a sensory bin. We keep the rice in the bin. No dumping. No throwing. No eating. Say the rules with me.

Stay close, especially the first few times they play.

Help them remember the rules. No dumping, no throwing, no eating.

If they continue to break the rules, pick up of the sensory bin and put it out of reach. The rules were: no dumping, no throwing, no eating. We will try again for greater success later.

And then let them have that chance to try again later.

Kids are so smart. They understand rules and boundaries, as long as we are firm, clear, and consistent with them. Removing the bin sends a powerful message: When my grown up sets a boundary, I need to play within that.

Think of the life lesson that teaches our children. Sensory bins are great for giving us a chance to teach about rules, self control, and boundaries.

Two toddlers play with rainbow rice

One last tip:

I know it’s not visible in my photos, but add a beach towel under the sensory bin for an extra layer of protection and to further illustrate where the boundary of this bin is.

Again, kids are smart.

They learn to keep food on the table at dinner, water in the tub at bath time, and rice inside a sensory bin.

Two toddlers play with rainbow rice

This rice lasts FOREVER

Once your kids are done playing, you have a few options:

You can leave the bin out for a few days of play OR you can store the rice for next time. I tend to leave my rice out a month or so, then switch to a new sensory bin base (like cornmeal or water or beans).

Rainbow rice will last YEARS (and I mean YEARS).

Rainbow rice with toddlers will always be a favorite

Have you tried rainbow rice yet? Drop any tips you have into the comments below so we can support others in their sensory bin journey.

How to use rainbow rice with toddlers: learn the secrets to sensory bins with toddlers


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