Activities for Kids, Toddler life

Rainbow Rice For Sensory Play

I often get asked, “but what do you do with rainbow rice”; It may look pretty , but how does one incorporate it into “play”?

First, lets look at how to make it.

It is super easy and you can choose whether to use paint or food colouring. There are two ways to make it, I chose to use paint as my kids are a bit older and I know they won’t “eat” the rice. For younger kids, use the vinegar and food colouring method. I just find the paint makes a more vibrant colour.

1 cup of uncooked rice ( I used 2 for a larger batch)
Sealable bag / container
A blob of paint

Place your rice into the bag, with a good blob of paint and seal your bag. Rub the paint around until all specs of rice are coated (I got the kids to do this). Lay out to dry on a flat tray in a warm area for about 2 hours. You don’t want the paint transferring on your hands.

Vinegar Option
1 cup of rice
1/2 top vinegar
A good few drops of food colouring

Use the same method as above but you may need to dry overnight.

How do you play with it?

Now that you have made it, lets look at all the different things you can do with it, apart from admiring the pretty colours. The benefits of using rice in sensory play are second to none. From an OT point of view its great for kids that have low tactile input, the rice stimulates receptors on the skin so they can interpret sensory input more accurately. It’s the perfect medium for fine motor skill development. For those kids that avoid any tactile input completely (your kids that don’t like to walk barefoot or don’t like to get messy), because they can play in a controlled manner. Place it into a smaller container/ tray lets them control their experience more.

Here’s a couple of ways we use our rainbow rice to give you some idea’s:

Sensory Trays – any rice makes a fantastic base for sensory trays. It’s a bit like sand in that you can grab it, dig in it, scoop it etc. We use rice in a lot of our sensory fun. I have used it in themed sensory bins like our valentine one, or our outer space adventure.

Imagination Play – rice is perfect for “cooking”, making potions and baking. My boys like to stir it about in pots or “sprinkle” onto cupcakes.

Scavenger hunts – using the rice as a base for treasure hunts. Hide their favourite toys or treasures inside and make a checklist for the kids to dig through and find.

Scooping and Pouring activities – Great for fine motor skill development in little ones. Give them a try with the rice and some pouring jugs and let them scoop and pour away.

Letter recognition – add in an extra dimension by chucking in some magnets and a wand, magnetic letters are a great way to start letter recognition. Another exercise is to place the rice on a tray and get your child to “trace” the letters of the alphabet (from pictures), this is a great way to get them used to the shape of letters for recognition and to prepare them for writing.

“I-spy” Bottles – create personalized little “I-spy”bottles like this one over at lalymom.com , these are great for long car or plane journeys to keep little ones entertained.

Use it for art – ever tried sticking rice onto glue? It makes a fantastic piece of artwork for kids. Let them get creative with their glue sticks and create masterpieces with the rice.

Music Makers – If you have babies or young toddlers, you can also put the rainbow rice into bottle or plastic egg. The baby can then shake, shake, shake the bottle like a maracas.

I hope some of these idea’s helped you with some inspiration. The beauty of coloured rice is once you make it you can literally store it in an airtight container for life. We pull ours out quite often. Be careful though, rice does get everywhere. I always put done our messy play mat (a plastic sheet) and take it outside. Happy Playing !

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