A clear mason jar holds layers of colored rice. From bottom to top: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

Rainbow rice is easy—and fun!—to make. A versatile play material, rainbow rice can be used for sustained play with toddlers and older kids.

Time: 5 minutes (per color); 30 minutes (for a full rainbow set)
Best for ages: 2+
Rainbow rice works well with multiple ages, making it great for families to use together.
Supervise children under age three. Keep in mind that this rice is not for eating (though it can no doubt be cooked as a colorful grain supplement!)


You’ll only need a few ingredients and a little time to make rainbow rice. Better yet, children can be involved in the making process by shaking zipped bags of rice and food dye. So what are you waiting for? Grab your materials and shake them up!

Rainbow rice can be reused and stored in a large ziploc bag or tupperware container with an airtight lid. Want to play right away? Pour some in a bin and add a few utensils and cups. For a more curated play experience, check out our Mini Art Lesson: Rainbow Rice Sensory Bins.

Prepare your workspace. Lay down some newspaper or towels to protect your workspace from accidental stains and spills.

Gather your materials. You’ll need a large bag of uncooked white rice, a cup or bowl for scooping, food coloring, and several large ziplock bags (one per rice color).

Scoop several cups of rice into a ziplock bag. This is a great activity for children to do. The scooping and pouring action helps develop motor skills. Be prepared for spills, offer a helping and encouraging hand when needed.

Add color. Squeeze several drops of food coloring into the bag of rice. This is a great opportunity to explore primary and secondary colors. Pictured, we are adding red and blue to the bag to make purple.

Shake it up! Seal your bag tightly; an adult can make sure it’s completely secure. Then, have a child shake it up. Play a favorite song and shake until the finish. This is a great opportunity to jump, run while carrying the bag, or whatever it takes to mix those colors!

Repeat for each new color you’d like to make. We made six bags to create a rainbow.