How to Color Rice for Sensory Table Activities

By Miranda Brumbaugh
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Encourage your young child’s mental and physical development with a sensory table filled with dyed rice. Sensory tables provide children with the opportunity to explore commonplace objects with their senses, including sight, touch, smell and taste. As your child explores the tiny grains of rice, discuss with him how the rice feels in his hands, such as whether it's hard or soft. You can also ask him what rice is and where it comes from. Utilize the sensory table to teach colors and how to count as your child progresses with the activity.

Step 1

Divide 1 pound of rice among 4 to 8 quart-size, zipper-sealed plastic bags, depending on the number of colors you are making.

Step 2

Add 1/2 teaspoon of a single color of liquid food coloring to each bag. Blend two colors by adding 1/4 teaspoon of each color, if desired. Or, add three to five drops each of more than two food colors to experiment with different shades.

Step 3

Pour approximately 1/8 cup of white distilled vinegar into each bag. Add only enough vinegar needed to saturate the rice without leaving it floating in excess liquid.

Step 4

Remove any excess air from the bags and seal the zippers. Shake the bags gently to coat all of the rice with the colored vinegar. Knead the rice to ensure the color is distributed evenly, or leave some of the rice darker than the rest for multi-hued rice.

Step 5

Layer four to six sheets of newspaper on the work surface. Pour out one bag of the rice. Spread it out in a single layer over the newspaper. Lay a separate stack of newspaper for each color of rice so the colors don’t bleed onto one another. Spread the rice out on the separate beds of newspaper.

Step 6

Allow the rice to dry overnight. Mix the rice at least once during the drying process to speed the drying time.

Step 7

Pour the colored rice in a 6-quart clear plastic tub. Maintain the different colors of rice so your child can mix the colors himself as he explores the tub. Add kitchen utensils, such as cups, spoons and funnels, or small plastic toys, such as cars and animals, to the rice for your child to use while exploring it.

Step 8

Cover the tub with its fitted lid when storing.

About the Author

Miranda Brumbaugh enjoys covering travel, social issues, foster care, environmental topics, crafting and interior decorating. She has written for various websites, including National Geographic Green Living and Dremel. Brumbaugh studied in Mexico before graduating with a Master of Science in sociology from Valdosta State University.