DIY: easy rainbow rice sensory bin
Earlier this week, I made a trip to the dollar store and came back with some treasures to make a sensory bin for Logan (spoiler: he's nuts about it). It's a wonderful open-ended play opportunity that will grow with him as he develops. Here's what is the current setup with 16-month-old Logan:
- shallow plastic bin with lid - we have this 28qt bin as recommended by the toddler play guru, busy toddler. It's every bit as perfect as you'd expect from someone with 200,000 instagram followers.
- rainbow rice - feel free to use plain rice if you don't want to take the time to color rice (I'll share my method below) but it only takes about 10 minutes of hands-on time to make and it's pretty darn cool. I used 6lbs of rice that I purchased at the dollar store (only $1 for 2 pounds!) I made 1 pound each of purple, orange, pink, and green, and left 2 pounds un-dyed.
- muffin tin - I bought a 6-well muffin tin at the dollar store. It's a great destination to scoop rice into, as well as a sorting tool to put the small toys into. Other options for this include a plastic ice tray,
- assorted scoops and tongs - I acquired some of these scoops and tongs from Walmart (similar) and the Dollar store (similar here too). Provide a variety of options to scoop and rake and pick at the rice.
- small toys - one of Logan's favorite activities with this sensory bin is to rake through the rice with his hand or a scoop and find the plastic toys I've hidden inside. I purchased this set of plastic farm animals, and will add some plastic dinosaurs left over from Logan's first birthday party. Die-cast cars are also popular choices with Logan right now. As Logan gets older, we'll be able to use these toys as natural opportunities to talk about size, animal names and sounds, color, etc to facilitate learning through play.
To set up the bin, I placed the muffin tin on one side, then filled the other side with rice. I hid 5-10 plastic animals inside the rice, then added a couple scoops and a set of tongs to the top as an invitation to work. Once Logan woke up from nap, he was immediately attracted to it, and I spent a few minutes modeling different things he could do with the bin. He started by just feeling the rice, and within a few minutes, was digging in and finding the tiny plastic pigs. What a great way to spend a late summer afternoon!
easy rainbow rice
- 1 lb long grain white rice
- 1 tsp food coloring (I like this neon gel, but use whatever you have at home)
- 1 tsp rubbing alcohol or white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine rice in a zip-top bag with food coloring and rubbing alcohol or vinegar. Seal and mix well by shaking and kneading the bag. Add more food coloring if a deeper color is desired. Once desired color is achieved, spread on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place colored rice in oven and turn off heat. Allow rice to sit in the warm oven for 20-30 minutes or until dry to the touch. Let cool, then play away!
Do you make sensory bins for your little ones? What do you include in yours?