Some things just go better together: ketchup & mustard. Peanut butter & jelly. Paint & rice. No, seriously! Finger painting with rice is uh-mazing.
Finger painting with rice = the ultimate sensory painting project
Simply adding rice into paint adds a whole new texture and element of pure sensory fun. We love an activity that can be kicked up a notch with one simple tweak. This, friends, is it.
Finger painting on its own? AWESOME.
But finger painting with rice in it? BEYOND AMAZING!
Related: Our giant 10-foot coloring banners are beyond amazing, too!
Why you should try finger painting with rice
We love this activity because you probably already have everything you need! We know that people (us, too!) are more likely to try activities when they can learn about them and immediately set them up themselves.
The bonus part is that they’re inexpensive and easy to find if you don’t have the materials right now.
Plus, this is an art activity AND a sensory activity, and we love two-for-ones.
Looking for more sensory art projects? Try these, too!
- Homemade Edible Paint for Kids – TinkerLab
- Bubble Wrap Stomp Painting – Capturing Parenthood
- DIY Yarn Paintbrushes – Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
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- Rice – uncooked, dyed or plain
- Thick paper – cardstock, cardboard, and watercolor paper work great!
- Wide, shallow bowls – we used pie tins
Note: We used dyed rice simply because it’s what we had on hand. The rice will get completely covered in paint, so plain rice works just as well.
First, fill up your shallow bowl (or pie tin) with the rice and set it in the center of the table.
Next, provide each child with one piece of thick, white paper and add paint onto the paper. Invite your child to mix and spread the colors with their hands. With their fingers in the paint, can they draw circles? Lines? Their name?
Last, RICE! You can sprinkle rice directly onto the paper, or, my favorite way, invite your littles to stick their hands directly into the pie tin. When they lift their hands up, they’re all covered with rice, chaos will ensue, and it’s hilarious.
As your child mixes the rice into the paint, talk about how it looks, sounds, and feels. This activity activates several senses and it’s fun watching how they work together.
What does finger painting with rice look like when it’s dry?
It looks so cool! We use BioColor paint for most of our projects, and when this project dries, the rice dries in it and doesn’t fall off.
The kids love looking at their dried pieces and watching how the rice stays in place even when they shake it.
But, not all paints are created equally (I’m looking at you, tempera 👀 ). If you’re using tempera paint, or paint that you know flakes and peels when it dries, add some glue into the paint during the finger painting part and the rice should dry nicely on the paper.
Alternatively, you don’t have to keep your pieces!
Sometimes art is fun to make just for the sake of making it. For example, sometimes when we do art like this, we will do it on recycled cardboard box pieces and then toss them when we finish. That’s okay! This technique can teach kids that a paper doesn’t need to be collected and displayed for the art to have meaningful and fun!
Is finger painting a fine motor skill?
Yes, it is! Fine motor skills use small muscle movements and often involve the hands.
When kids do this activity, they use their hands and fingers to hold their papers, mix the paint, draw in the paint, grab the rice, etc. Fine motor, fine motor, fine motor!
A significant part of our curriculum, environment, and materials in preschool focus on fine motor skills.
Why are fine motor skills so important?
Fine motor skills are essential for all kinds of tasks, such as:
- Writing and drawing
- Using a fork or spoon
- Brushing teeth
- Zipping a jacket
- Opening a door handle
- Turning the pages of a book
Many acts of independence require our hands. For this reason, it’s exciting to provide children with many opportunities to make their hands strong and able to complete a variety of tasks.
Easy alternatives if you don’t have rice
If you don’t have or want to use rice, try one of these easy swaps:
- Mini pom poms
- Mini pebbles
- Small beads
Any age that won’t try to eat the materials!
We have the kids rub off as much rice as they can, then rinse their hands in a soapy bucket of water.
Not at all! We used colored rice because it’s what we had, but uncolored works perfectly, too.
Finger painting with rice is a 10/10 activity
The next time you think of iconic duos, right after you think “macaroni & cheese,” you’ll think “paint & rice!”
They’re a match made in heaven and you’re going to love it, too.