Have you ever wondered how to dye rice without stinky vinegar or rubbing alcohol? This quick and easy method is how we’ve made rice for years, and it is gorgeous.
Come learn how to dye rice for sensory play
For millions and billions of years, people have been dyeing rice for sensory play with stinky vinegar and rubbing alcohol.
While that method works, nobody likes the smell while it’s made, and adding vinegar or rubbing alcohol adds an unnecessary step.
We have been dyeing our rice with one ingredient forever, and once you try this method, you’ll never go back! Introducing…liquid watercolors.
Related: Liquid watercolors are super fun for painting in our GIANT 10-foot coloring page banners, too!
How to dye rice with liquid watercolors
Liquid watercolors are a love of my preschool-and-art-teacher life, and they make PERFECT dyed rice every single time.
With liquid watercolors, you can transform plain white rice into inviting, colorful, engaging sensory heaven!
And as an added plus, liquid watercolors and rice dry so quickly that this isn’t an activity you must plan far in advance. In only 10-15ish minutes after dyeing rice, it’s ready to play with.
Looking for more awesome rice activities? We love these:
- Funnels and Rice – A Perfect Sensory Bin – Busy Toddler
- Rainbow Rice I-Spy Bottle – You Clever Monkey
- Animal Habitat Mini Sensory Tubs – The Imagination Tree
Friends Art Lab is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.
- Liquid watercolors
- Zippered plastic bag – I use a gallon size
- Shallow tray – Such as a baking sheet
Friends, this is SO EASY to make!
First, add a cup or two of rice into your zippered bag.
Next, add a splash of liquid watercolors – just eyeball about a tablespoon to start. Zip closed and ensure it’s securely zipped, or the rice will fly. (Ask me how I know, haha!)
Now, shake it up! As you shake the bag, the liquid watercolors and rice will mix and the rice will become gorgeous and colorful right before your eyes.
- My rice is TOO WET: Add more dry rice.
- My rice is TOO DRY/not colorful enough: Add more liquid watercolors.
You can’t mess it up. 😉
Once your rice is to your liking, pour it into a shallow tray. Every few minutes, break it up with your hands. In maybe 10-15 minutes, your rice will be dry and ready to go!
Note 1: It’s very, very hot where we live in the summer, and when we dye rice outside between June and September, it takes maybe 2 minutes for it to be dry and ready to go.
Note 2: You don’t need to use a new bag for each color. If you need to rinse the bag between colors, you can. I don’t rinse it out when I am using colors that won’t get muddy (ex: red, magenta, purple, blue).
Do you need vinegar to dye rice?
You sure don’t!
How long does dyed rice last for?
Forever and ever.
We have rice we dyed ten years ago that looks like we made it yesterday.
Dyed rice makes for the perfect sensory table base because it’s quick and inexpensive to make, and it doesn’t need to be replaced often.
How do I make a rice sensory bin?
Find a shallow, small container and add in your gorgeous homemade dyed rice.
Then, add props! You can add in absolutely anything that your child loves.
Some fun props to toss into a sensory table:
- Pipe cleaners
- Pom poms
- Animal figurines
- People figurines
- Popsicle sticks
- Foam shapes
- Craft rolls
- Unifix cubes
You can use it as paint, or to dye shaving cream, water, pasta, play dough, and more. It’s one of the best art supplies EVER.
Any age that can enjoy the activity without trying to eat any of the materials.
No, we use the same bag. If you need to, you can rinse it out between colors.
Once you learn how to dye rice the easy way, your life truly begins
It’s one of my favorite things to make because it feels like you’re holding a little bit of magic in your hands.
Plus, kids LOVE getting to help make it themselves, too.
You’re going to love this!