Learn how to color rice with food coloring for quick and easy sensory play! Colored rice makes an awesome sensory bin filler and one of our favorites. We will show you how to dye rice easy, so it is ready to use the same day. Our simple how to dye rice recipe makes beautiful colors for whatever sensory play theme you choose.

Make Colored Rice For A Sensory Bin

Our simple how-to dye rice recipe makes beautiful colors for whatever theme you choose including rainbow rice.  Make sure to check out our list of favorite sensory bins for great ways to use your colored rice!

Here’s how to color rice with food coloring for sensory activities. All it takes is food coloring and vinegar. Yes, you can dye rice without vinegar. We include an easy alternative for you below. 

Kids will have a blast digging their hands into a colored rice sensory bin! This how-to dye rice for sensory play is such a simple recipe! Prep and make it in the morning and you can set up your sensory bin for an afternoon activity.

Also, make sure to check out more dyed sensory play materials:

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.

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 Dye Rice


  • White rice
  • Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Fun sensory bin items like dinosaurs.
  • Scoops and small cups for dumping and filling


STEP 1: Measure 1 Cup of rice into a container.

You can make a bigger quantity of colored rice if desired just adjust the measurements. Or you can do several colors in different containers and mix them together for a rainbow theme!

measure 1 cup of rice

STEP 2: Next add 1 Teaspoon of Vinegar. 

Don’t want to use vinegar? You could add lemon juice instead of vinegar for a fun lemon scented rice sensory bin.

add vinegar to the rice

STEP 3: Now add as much food coloring as desired (deeper color= more food coloring).

You can make several shades of the same color for a fun effect!

add food coloring to the rice

STEP 4: Cover the container and SHAKE the rice vigorously for a minute or two. Check to see if the rice is evenly coated with the food coloring!

STEP 5: Spread the colored rice on a paper towel or a tray to dry in an even layer.

STEP 6: Once dry you can transfer the colored rice to a bin for sensory play.

What will you add? Sea creatures, dinosaurs, unicorns, mini-figures all make great additions to any sensory play activity.

rice is ready to play with in a sensory bin

Tips For Easy Colored Rice Every Time

  1.  The rice should be dry in an hour if you stick to one cup per paper towel. I find the color is distributed the best this way too.
  2. For some sensory bins, I make graded shades of colors for a fun twist.  This has also allowed me to experiment with how much food coloring to use per cup of rice to achieve desired shades!
  3. Store your rice in gallon zip lock bags when finished and reuse often!

Fun Things To Do With Colored Rice

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 bins, and sensory play!

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.

Sensory Play Recipes for Kids Tactile Activities


  1. Thanks for this post. I was working to compile my “Ultimate Guide to Sensory Tables” and needed to find a link to a good description of how to dye rice and yours was perfect.

  2. Usually, grocery stores will have giant bags for around $10. You can also try a Costco type warehouse store!

  3. Where do you get your small white bins from? They look like the perfect size for one kid

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