My goal here is to share with you how easy and inexpensive it is to make different rice sensory bins with just an empty container, a bag of rice, and objects/toys from around the house. Find out what to put in a sensory bin with rice, how much rice to use and why rice is one of our favorite sensory bin fillers. These super simple sensory bin ideas below can provide hours of engaging fun, as well as learning opportunities for you and your child!


Why Use Sensory Bins?

Are sensory bins worth it? Yes, they are worth it. The more basic you keep the sensory bin, the better off you are. Remember, you create a tactile experience for your kids, not a Pinterest image. While we have fantastic pictures of sensory bins, they only stay that way for a minute!

Sensory bins are awesome hands-on tools for children to learn about their world and senses! Sensory play may calm a child, focus a child, and engage a child. Read about the many benefits below.

Note: Food as a sensory filler can be a sensitive issue. You can easily substitute moldable sand or other materials for rice in all of these sensory bin ideas.

Here’s what children can learn from sensory bins:

  • Practical Life Skills ~ Sensory bins let a child explore, discover and create play using practical life skills (dumping, filling, scooping) and learn valuable play skills.
  • Play Skills {emotional development} ~ For both social play and independent play, sensory bins allow children to play cooperatively or side by side. My son has had many positive experiences with other children over a bin of rice!
  • Language Development ~ Sensory bins increase language development by experiencing all there is to see and do with their hands, which leads to great conversations and opportunities to model language.
  • Understanding 5 Senses ~ Many sensory play bins include a few senses! The five senses are touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell. Children can experience several at a time with a sensory bin.

How To Make A Rice Sensory Bin

To make a rice sensory bin, you only need to pick up a bag of rice at the supermarket and some type of large container. Then you are ready to get started! You can read more about the best container to use for sensory bins here.

Each of these sensory bin activities below can be used by multiple ages simultaneously, helpful for those moments when you don’t have enough hands or need a few extra minutes to get something done!

Use the rice as is or make colored rice with our easy step by step instructions for how to dye rice.

How much rice do you need?

It depends on the size of you container. More rice is better to play with than less! Especially if you plan to hide items in the rice, like our alphabet rice sensory bin below. Plus, kids (and adults) love to dig their hands right into a pile of rice. It’s an amazing feeling!

Start with a few cups; add more if needed. Or you can do like we do and use a giant bag! Make sure to store the rice in a container with a lid so you can use it repeatedly! Check it before each use! Encourage hand washing before and after play to keep the rice as clean as possible.

This is my little helper (3.5y) preparing our bin for all these great ideas! Even setting up our sensory bin is a fun experience for my little one.

TIP: Let them help, and keep a broom handy! Sensory bins and practical life skills (sweeping) go hand in hand.

rice sensory bin set upPin

How To Make Colored Rice

It is easy to dye rice yourself and make beautiful colors for whatever theme you choose, including rainbow rice. All it takes is food coloring and vinegar. You can also dye rice without vinegar; we include an easy alternative. See here for how to dye rice.


Kids will have a blast digging their hands into a colored rice sensory bin! Prep and make it in the morning, and you can set up your sensory bin for an afternoon activity. Green is a great color to rescue with various themes, and blue!


Free Quick Start Rice Sensory Bin Guide

Make sure to download and print this quick-start rice sensory bin guide for creating quick and easy rice sensory bins.

Easy Rice Sensory Bin Ideas

Below you’ll find various quick rice sensory bin ideas using items you most likely already have. Head to the dollar store if you’re looking for specific containers, scoops, or thematic items.

Don’t forget about the old standby, a classic rice sensory bin with a scoop and bucket…Young kids love to fill and dump!

Math and Measuring

A large bin, plain or dyed rice, and measuring cups can provide hours of open-ended play and discovery! An easy introduction to measurements and even fractions for younger kids without being a structured activity!

Alphabet & Number Hide, Seek, and Match!

Let’s go alphabet hunting! Grab a set of alphabet letters or numbers and hide them in your rice. Invite your child to go on a hunt. Add tongs for an extra challenge! No need for a formal activity; ask your kids what letter they found or if they can find a specific letter. Play ISpy even!

Cardboard Tubes

Paper towel tubes and toilet paper rolls along with a scoop and container are a fun addition to create a simple rice sensory bin!

Kitchen Play

Go through your kitchen drawers and cupboards for this fun rice sensory bin. Add in some play food items if you have them. Add empty spice jars that still had the spice smell!

  • Mixing bowl
  • Scoops
  • Ladle
  • Tongs
  • Measuring Cups

Tip: Do not overcrowd the sensory bin! Your kids are more likely to be overwhelmed and not play for long if there are too many items. Sometimes less is more.

Magnet Madness

Put together a simple rice bin with magnetic items and a magnetic wand to search for the treasure. I gave him a bucket to put everything in, and he dug it out until only rice was left! Add it to a whole magnet exploration unit with a sensory bottle, painting, and maze!

Favorite Book Theme

Choose a fun picture book and some items that would relate to the story. Read the story and have fun playing! Hopefully some independent play can follow after the story too! Here are some of our favorite themes.

  • Construction Vehicles (Add small construction vehicles that can be manipulated to dig and scoops as well as rock vase filler for variety)
  • Dinosaurs (Dye rice green and add dinosaurs and plastic trees.
  • Farm Animals (Dye rice green and add farm animals, a small barn if available, or a cardboard box can be decorated to look like a barn)
  • Ocean (Dye rice blue and add plastic fish, shells, and aquarium plants.
  • Space or Galaxy (Dye rice purple, blue, and black)
  • Pirate Treasure (Add gold coins, gems, and jewels)
  • Princess (Dye rye pink and add gems and jewels)

Lemon Scented Sensory Bin

Learn how to add a fresh lemon scent to your dyed rice here!


Coins and Counting

So easy and fun to do in just one afternoon! Add a roll of pennies to a sensory bin and for an added challenge add a clothespin for grabbing them.

Double the fine motor practice and a ton of counting. Great for multiple ages and players! Use different coins for sorting and adding!

Rainbows and Rice

Have fun with the colors of the rainbow, and even make a rainbow or two with this fun rice sensory bin. Add colored rainbow rice filler (see here how to color your rice), and add items from around the house in rainbow colors.

We added an old CD to make rainbows with on the wall or floor, a rainbow pin wheel, a rainbow container, rainbow cups, rainbow links, Easter eggs and some fun colored spoons leftover from the local yogurt shop (measuring spoons work too!).

LOOK: How To Make A Rainbow

Plant a Garden

Fake flowers, a flower pot, rocks, and garden tools can be a fun addition to a rice sensory bin.


More Helpful Ideas For Sensory Bins

Sensory play is an amazing tool for young children. It’s the perfect hands-on play for early learning. Sensory bins are so versatile and easy to use and create. Make sure to check out the resources below for more on sensory bin and sensory play!

More Sensory Bin Ideas to Make

Look for fun and free printables to match the different sensory bin themes!

Easy Sensory Play Recipes To Try

Click on the image below or on the link for more fun sensory play recipes for kids. Learn how to make cloud dough, kinetic sand, homemade playdough and more.



  1. What a party last week on Friday Flash Blog! Thanks for joining us. I hope you’ve visited some of the other community members and you’re having a splendid week.


  2. These are really fun ideas! Thanks for linking to Share It Saturday. I’ll be featuring this post tomorrow.

  3. Awesome! Thank you. I just saaw it and it was a nice surprise when I went to link up this week.

  4. Thanks for the pictures. I somehow had it in my head that I had to have bins and bins full of rice and objects. I like the idea of just ONE bin of rice and the toys have smaller boxes to be put away in in groups. This simplifies it for me quite a bit. Might have to try this.

  5. What super ideas. We love playing with rainbow rice and I’m going to pin this so we can try some new sensory activities 🙂

  6. Inspired by your puzzle piece bin, I love the idea of hiding block beeswax crayons, thick Lyra colored pencils, or markers in rice and having a clipboard with some plain paper. Your toddler has to dig through the rice to find the coloring materials before drawing. What do you think?

  7. Pingback: 26 Easy, Fun Alphabet Activities That Give Kids the Practice They Need | Hepcanta Education

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