Sensory bins are one of our favorite activities. When I created my first bin last year, I decided to use rice as our base. I was drawn to the fact that it was an affordable filler and liked that we would be able to dye the rice to add a pop of color. As I searched for instructions online, I found that many recipes called for rubbing alcohol or a large quantity of white distilled vinegar. I knew I didn’t want to use rubbing alcohol but was also hesitant to add white distilled vinegar due to the smell.
After considering some alternatives, I decided to use white distilled vinegar but added only a fraction of what the original recipe called for to see if I could avoid using so much. To my surprise, the small quantity of white distilled vinegar was enough to allow the color to distribute and adhere to all the rice. Using a lesser quantity of liquid also allows the rice to dry very quickly. While I recommend allowing the rice to dry overnight, my rice was dry within a hour.
- 6 cups of white rice
- 2 tsp of white distilled vinegar
- Food coloring
- Gallon storage bag
- Mixing bowl or pan
- Wax paper or foil
*Note: This recipe will yield a larger quantity of rice since I use a 28 qt sensory bin. If you are filling a smaller sensory bin, I recommend adjusting the recipe to fit your needs. You’ll need 1/3 tsp of white distilled vinegar for every cup of rice you add.
To make your own rice, follow these instructions for each individual color you wish to create. Start by measuring your rice into a gallon storage bag. Next, add white distilled vinegar and food coloring (I used gel coloring). Once your ingredients have been added, remove any air from the bag and seal completely. Massage the sealed bag of rice continuously to allow for an even distribution of the food coloring. Add more food coloring as needed until you achieve your desired color. Once complete, dump your rice into a mixing bowl/pan lined with wax paper or foil to dry overnight. The next morning your rice will be completely dry and the color will be permanent. Place your rice in your bin, add toys/accessories and enjoy watching your child play. The possibilities are endless.