Looking for an easy, taste-safe sensory activity for 1 year olds and toddlers? Check out this post on rainbow rice and funnels: a quick and fun activity for kids. Find the recipe for rainbow rice, ideas for creating a sensory bin, and information on how to use sensory bins with toddlers is included in the post.
Why make a rainbow rice and funnels sensory bin?
Sensory bins are important.
You might think “Yeah, important in making messes” but hey hey now, hear me out. I know sensory bins can give people the willies…believe me, I don’t need more messes in my life either. But trust me, simple sensory bins – like this rainbow rice and funnels set up – do a whole lot of good for our kids.
I know it doesn’t look like much.
But this little bitty sensory bin is worth its weight in gold (and well worth the sweep up of rice at the end).
Because my son (28 months old) is learning so much doing this bin!
Look carefully… do you see it? He’s learning about capacity – how much can a jar hold? He’s learning to transfer – a skill he will use all his life. He’s learning to use simple tools – a scoop and funnels.
Most importantly: he’s exploring
In this easy rainbow rice and funnels activity, I’m giving my son space to question, reason, and think.
It’s a chance to just be immersed in learning.
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- Funnels: We’ve had this set for 5 years
- Rainbow rice
- Storage container: this is my favorite one
- Scoops: I love these!
These are the usual suspects for my sensory bin. I call them the “sensory bin basics.” So it might look like a big supply list, but it’s actually stuff you probably have lying around (or at least you should).
RELATED: Why is sensory play is good for kids? Find out in this article.
How to dye rainbow rice
For each color that you want, follow a 1:1 ratio: 1 cup rice to 1 Tablespoon white vinegar.
In this activity, I used about 3 cups of rice per color, which means I put 3 cups of rice and 3 Tablespoons of vinegar and placed it in a resealable plastic bag.
Add in several squirts of food coloring and start shaking. Turn on Shake it Off while you make this if you want.
Pour the now-colored rice onto a cookie sheet.
Repeat for the other colors.
It usually dries to the touch in about 1 hour.
My kids love helping to shake up the rainbow rice and they are so excited to wait as it dries.
The good news is: once you make a batch of this, it will last you for years as long as you keep it sealed in a bag or container.
RELATED: Worried your child won’t keep a sensory bin tidy? They’ll learn! Here’s my method.
What is a rainbow rice and funnels bin?
I dumped my rainbow rice (seriously the easiest stuff to make) into a container and added in a bunch of scoops.
I set that inside a larger container – the goal here is to contain the spills. You can also just put a big blanket or beach towel down to catch any mishaps.
I put in some jars and funnels, and started by modeling the process to my son, because modeling this is key.
You have to model how to use the scoop and the funnels to get things started. I’d also recommend staying close for the first time the funnel gets clogged.
That’s a fun problem-solving moment that they have to work through. Help them – but don’t do it for them. Be their learning assistant and remember: the more they can figure out on their own, the better.
Watch for the learning in this sensory bin
Remember, sensory bins are full of learning. This looks like fun (and it is!), but there’s some serious and significant learning happening when a child plays with a sensory bin – even a bin of just rice and funnels.
Watch for the learning:
- Problem solving and critical thinking
- Learning about cause and effect
- Fine motor planning
- Imaginary play
- Math and science skills
The goal is to give children a fun, safe, and inviting environment to practice and grow their skills and knowledge. And that’s exactly what’s happening with this sensory bin.
Frequently Asked Questions
For about 1 day. If that’s an issue for you, no worries! Swap the vinegar for lemon juice or rubbing alcohol, or use liquid water color like this post (however, it isn’t taste-safe anymore).
Nope! Once the color has dried, it is locked onto the rice for good. Nothing will transfer to anything – hands, carpet, white couches… everything will be safe!
You can, but the color won’t be quite as vibrant as with white rice.
Put it in a resealable plastic bag or air-tight container and it will last for years… yes, years…