Let’s make a fun and engaging Halloween sensory activity for toddlers and preschoolers. Using black and orange dyed rice, this is sensory play is perfect for Halloween. Bonus: this rice can be saved for years of future Halloweens.
How to create this Halloween magic
Ah, there’s nothing more fun than a good colored rice bin, am I right?! Wait. Don’t answer that. I’m throwing it out there rhetorically and don’t need it coming back to me.
This is Halloween sensory perfection and that’s the way I’ll keep it. Plus it’s one of the easiest Halloween activities out there.
RELATED: Looking for so many Halloween ideas? See my Ultimate List of Halloween Activities that are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
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- Sensory bin: this is my 28 qt container from Target
- Black food coloring
- Orange food coloring
- Eye balls: You can get these at the dollar store
- Egg carton: my recycle bin
Don’t worry. I wouldn’t lead you down a path of complication. Though this might look elaborate and over the top, it is anything but.
It’s some quickly dyed rice, two bags on dollar store eye balls, and an egg carton I cut in half. We aren’t talking about something sophisticated here – just something brilliantly simple and awesome Halloween sensory fun.
RELATED: Trying to grow your Halloween book collection? You should check out my list of them!
Dyeing rice black and orange
Here’s how to dye rice:
- Pour 3 cups of white rice into a resealable bag or container with a lid.
- Add in 3 Tablespoons of white vinegar
- Squirt in a generous amount of food coloring
- Shake Shake Shake!
- Pour onto a baking sheet to dry (takes about 30 minutes)
This method of dyeing rice works for all colors. Follow the 1 cup = 1 Tablespoon of vinegar ratio.
Eye balls, scoops, and egg cartons
I couldn’t decide what to put in my sensory bin this day, but on a whim, I grabbed eye balls, scoops, and egg cartons.
I tossed them all in the bin. Somehow this all felt right for an easy Halloween activity, and I liked the unexpected nature of it.
My kids (newly 3 and 4) did too.
Here’s how my kids played with this Halloween sensory bin
Wow, they really went to town with this: scooping eye balls, burying them, dumping the cartons, etc. There was no shortage of imagination with this Halloween rice bin.
Bonus: the eye balls came in green or yellow. We got a pack of each so my kids could also sort the eye balls too.
How’s that for a Halloween miracle?!
What do kids learn in a sensory bin?
Sensory bins are an incredible learning opportunity for children. In this play experience, children have a chance to practice:
- Science skills (understanding properties of solids and liquids)
- Math skills (capacity, volume)
- Dramatic play (imaginary play is some of the most important play in childhood)
- Life skills (scooping, pouring, filling)
Tips for setting up sensory bins
- Worried about a mess? Put down a large towel or table cloth to make a boundary.
- Save this rice! Put this rice in a resealable bag when you’re done. It’s last for years!
- Make sure kids know the sensory bin rules: No dumping, no throwing, no eating.
RELATED: Definitely check out my post on how to introduce sensory bins to kids (and keep those bins tidy).
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope! Food coloring is water soluble – and heavily diluted in this activity.
Food coloring will rinse of little hands (if any gets on) and come out of clothing easily (just set the clothing is cold water for a few hours).
Think stages not ages. Instead of focusing on a child’s age, consider the stage of life they are in as well as their personality. Some kids will love sensory bins around 18 months. Some might not until later. Choose taste safe items (like this rice) and stay close to supervise.
My general belief: give the child a ‘friendly reminder.’ Then, take the bin away the next time. They can “try again for greater success” later. That might be 5 minutes later or 5 hours. Remind them of the rules: no dumping, no throwing, no eating.
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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