How to Color Rice

I’m pretty sure that learning how to color rice is a preschool necessity.  There are so many ways you can use colored rice: sensory bins, sensory bottles, homemade musical instruments, pretend cooking, art projects, and more.  It’s seriously fun stuff!  So when I realized this week that we had never made ANY colored rice at all, I knew I had to remedy the situation!  My two preschoolers and I had a blast making COLORED AND SCENTED rice this week, and because we hesitated so long to do it ourselves, we wanted to share just how truly simple it is to make so that YOU will not be afraid to try it yourself.

how to color rice

Materials Needed:

  • White Rice
  • Kool-Aid Packet
  • Rubbing Alcohol

For directions, see this tutorial from Mama Miss.  We used it as our guide.  As a first time rice dyer, I enjoyed reading her post for an explanation as to why she thinks Kool-Aid is better than food coloring for dying rice.  We weren’t let down!  It’s a superb tutorial and super simple to follow!  She goes into a lot more detail than I do here, so be sure to pop over to see all her great tips and tricks!  

We chose to make green rice for our first project.  Using Melissa’s measurements, we filled two plastic zippered baggies each with 2 cups of rice, 1 packet of Wild Watermelon Kiwi Kool-Aid drink mix, and 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol.  

how to color rice

The kids enjoyed holding the bags while I filled them and especially loved shaking and squeezing the ingredients to mix them well.  They commented several times about how good it smelled.  (They didn’t seem to mind the alcohol smell at all as it was mostly masked by the scented drink mix.)  

how to color rice

After waiting the recommended amount of time, we emptied our bags of now bright green rice onto a big baking sheet.  The kids spread the rice out with spoons to allow it to dry.  

how to color rice

It was already mostly dry to the touch, but we allowed it to air dry for a few hours before using it.

Learning how to color rice was such a fun activity for the kids and for me.  I’m really glad I involved the kids in the activity because making the colored rice was a sensory experience in itself!  We will definitely be making LOTS more in LOTS of different colors for LOTS of different activities.  

how to color rice

Be sure to check out In Lieu of Preschool‘s sister site, Parent Teach Play, where I share a soccer sensory bin using our Wild Watermelon Kiwi scented green rice to act as grass!  It’s been a huge hit at our house!!

Have you made colored rice before?  What method did you use to color your rice?

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • So pretty and I bet it smells wonderful!

  • So excited to try this! Does the color rub off on the kids’ hands at all when it’s ready to be played with, especially if their hands are slightly damp?

    • Genny Upton says:

      Yay!! We haven’t had that happen with ours! I think it’s always worth testing for yourself first though if that’s a concern as I’m sure different colors may have different results. 🙂

  • Nanette says:

    Any alternative suggestions for Cool Aid as we don’t get that in the UK?

  • Kimber says:

    Using a few drops of food coloring with the rubbing alcohol works, too. Normally, food coloring does tend to stain the hand, but using the same amount of rubbing alcohol with the food coloring keeps most of that at bay. After it’s dried – something you CAN’T do with the Kool-Aid – put it back in the bags and add 3 to 10 drops of essential oil(s), shake, dump back onto the cookie sheet, stir every hour or so until completely dry again. You can use the rice to make little pillows or dolls (sew tightly around ANY shape of cut-out cloth leaving a 1 inch “gap”, turn the shape inside out, fill, then sew up the last inch). Chamomile oil rice sewn up in a doll shape is a great scent to use for a child who doesn’t like to go to sleep. A few berry or citrus scented pillows are nice to leave out around the house. Just be careful with pets and make sure the items are sewn well if a very small child is using them! Some essential oils can be lethal to children and/or pets if ingested.

  • […] some sensory and pretend play fun, the kids and I created a soccer sensory bin!  We made our own colored and scented rice to look like grass for the bin and added plastic people and soccer goals.  The results were pretty […]

  • […] How to Color Rice (adds scent, too!) […]

  • missy says:

    I have made colored rice using food coloring. When we play with it our hands get full of chalky color as if we have been playing with chalk. I let the bags of rice dry for a few days. Is this normal or did I do something wrong in the process??

  • Gemma says:

    I found this place in the uk that sells kool-aid if you’re near Guildford? I’m going to give the rice a try this weekend!!

    Good luck!x

  • nina says:

    I have colored lots of rice and discovered that using my dehydrator to dry it works really well and gets rid of the alcohol smell faster!

    I love the kool-aid idea- I’ve only used food coloring.


  • Sinea Pies says:

    I just colored rice using food coloring. It looks pretty but it has kind of a salt n pepper look. Some pieces of rice just didn’t take the color. Your Kool-aid rice is so beautiful. Next time this is what I’ll do. I’m pinning and sharing this on social media. Lots of my readers have preschool age kids and they will love this!

    BTW, I have a Wednesday blog hop. I’d love it if you’d stop by and share your posts. 🙂

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