How to Dye Rice for Sensory Bin Play
How to dye rice for sensory bin play – This recipe is an easy method for dying rice for sensory bin play. Colorful rice is terrific for sensory play and easy to use at home, in preschool, or in early years settings. It is also excellent for sensory/texture play, mark making, and is an alternative for sand tray play, which involves filling, pouring, and mixing with containers. It can get a bit messy, so I like to keep it in a large Tupperware bin (or drawer), tuff spot or tray. I also try to use it in places that are easy to clean up, such as outdoors, or in an open space that’s easy to sweep up.
What you need
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- 1 cup of rice (UK)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar (UK)
- Food coloring (how much depends on the strength of the color you desire) (UK)
- Ziplock bag or Tupperware (plastic/glass container) (UK)
- Baking tray lined with foil or parchment paper (UK)
- Metal spoon
Place the rice, vinegar and food coloring into a bag or container. For every 1 cup of rice be sure to use at least one tablespoon of vinegar along with the food coloring. Mix it up with a spoon and then close it and shake it up until all the rice is coated with colour. If you decide to add more food colouring after mixing, you may need to add a little bit more vinegar to help make sure that the colour dyes the rice evenly. It’s nice to make several different colours and even make a rainbow for sensory play.
Once you have finished, spread the rice out on the lined baking tray to dry. The drying time will depend on the climate and the time of year, but its best to leave it overnight. To help it dry faster, place the tray of rice in the oven, and set it at its lowest temperature. Periodically check on it and stir it gently to make sure it dries evenly and doesn’t burn. This method should take 1-3 hours depending on your oven and how much rice you are drying.
You can keep this colorful rice in containers (when not being used) for months as long as it remains clean/dry.
What they get from it
Playing with colourful rice is a fun way for children to experiment with different textures and sensations. Sensory play provides many benefits to children such as enhancing learning, language, and memory development. Research has also shown that sensory experiences support children’s learning by reinforcing and creating connections in the brain (Papatheodorou & Moyles, 2012, Gascoyne, 2012, and Gascoyne, 2016). It is also an opportunity for them to see how other materials can be used and how they behave. Children can use colourful rice in their pretend play and also for exploring volume and capacity by filling and emptying containers.
Take it further – How to Dye Rice for Sensory Bin Play
It can be fun to enhance rice by adding items such as glitter, sequins, beads or other objects. It can also be fun to add an extra sensory experience by adding some essential oils and dried flower petals (e.g. lavender or rose petals).
Papatheodorou, T. & Moyles, J. (2012) Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Early Childhood. Sage.
Gascoyne, S. (2012). Treasure Baskets and Beyond: Realizing the Potential of Sensory-Rich Play. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
Gascoyne, S. (2016). Sensory Play: Play in the EYFS. Andrews UK Limited.