Let’s create a black rice sensory bin for Halloween. This quick and easy activity comes together with minimal prep, minimal supplies but a big impact. Bonus: dyed black rice will last for many Halloweens to come.
What is a black rice sensory bin?
The black rice sensory bin is made with (you guessed it) black dyed rice.
This isn’t some fancy brand of rice that’s new and mysterious. It’s just regular white rice dyed black for some spooky Halloween activities fun.
Here’s what I need you to know:
- Dyeing rice black is easy
- It’s a cost-effective Halloween supply
- You can save this for Halloweens to come (my black rice is 4 years old)
RELATED: If you need more Halloween activities for kids, check out my fantastic list.
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- White rice
- Black food dye
- Storage container: Here’s the link to my ride or die bin
- Mini pumpkins: Optional but it makes it feel like Halloween
- Mason jars or bowls
This activity combines three of my loves: sensory bins, dyed rice, and Halloween. Could anything be more exciting than that? (Don’t answer that – I’m a lady on the Internet who gets excited about sensory bins – my priorities are slightly off…).
But let me tell you, this black rice sensory bin is going to be fantastic.
RELATED: I have a few favorite Halloween supplies that I use on repeat. Make sure to check out that full (small) list.
The recipe for making black rice
Past Me (Hi, I’m Susie) used to roll her eyes at people who dyed rice colors. Who has time for that?
Turns out, it’s super easy, takes seconds, and really does make that rice even more incredible to play with.
Here’s the 4-1-1 on how to dye rice:
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar (to preserve the rice)
- A few generous squirts of black food dye
Dyeing rice follows a standard 1 cup rice + 1 T vinegar ratio. Using that, adjust to how much rice you need to create the sensory bin.
In this particular activity, I used 8 cups of rice, 8 Tablespoons of vinegar, and a crazy amount of food dye.
Put that all in a resealable plastic bag or container and mix it by shaking and squishing.
Lay it to dry on a cookie sheet – it only needs about 30 minutes before it is dry to the touch.
Important: The color sticks to the rice once dried. It will not transfer to hands.
RELATED: Are you a crafty person? Check out this awesome list of Halloween crafts for kids.
How to replicate my black rice sensory bin
I took my black rice and dumped it into my beloved 28 qt storage container – this is my go to container for activities.
I added in a few mini pumpkins, some scoops, and some jars. Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate (I mean, we just dyed rice… let’s keep the rest mellow). I had no plans for what my kids (3 and 2) would do with this activity set up. It was theirs for the taking.
RELATED: Curious how my kids keep sensory bins tidy? I taught them and you can teach your kids too.
What do kids do with this sensory bin?
Mostly, my kids ended up scooping and pouring. That’s what they most enjoy doing.
They fill one pumpkin and dump it into the next.
They fill one Mason jar and dump it into a pumpkin.
This process repeats over and over again as they play.
And they played for more than 30 minutes, then on and off all week with this. Eventually, we put the rice away – I stored it in a resealable bag and (update) it’s now lasted our family four years.
Best tips for success with the black rice sensory bin
Sensory bins are incredible for children. The amount of learning and skill building in a sensory bin is truly amazing.
For this activity to be successful, it’s important for kids to learn how to handle sensory bins and keep them tidy (I have an entire blog post dedicated to this).
In addition to helping kids learn how to keep bins reasonably clean, try these tips:
- Put a large towel, table cloth or sheet under the bin. This builds a border and defines the playing area.
- Stay close by. Don’t walk out the room on a toddler with rice.
- Do bins after meals so kids who are still mouthing objects are less likely to try and eat the bin
RELATED: What are kids learning when they play with sensory bins? Check that out in this post on why sensory play is important.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve had dyed rice last 5+ years. No joke. Dyed rice lasts for an incredible amount of time. Just make sure to store it in an air tight container when it’s not being played with.
That depends on the child and the sensory bin. Here’s a post of mine full of information on starting sensory bins with young children (my youngest did his first bin at 12 months old and was proficient by 15 months). You’ll want to base this off the child and whether the sensory bin is taste safe for them (rice is often a great first sensory bin).
It does for the first few plays with it. It doesn’t after a little bit. If you are sensitive to the vinegar smell, try using 1 Tablespoon lemon juice instead or adding some essential oils to the rice. You can also try this method from Friends Art Lab using liquid water color.