Coloured 'rainbow' rice makes a fantastic imaginative-play prop for toddlers and preschoolers: it can be play food for dolls, indoor 'sand' for hiding and finding toy treasures in, the basis of all sorts of colour-sorting games – and loads more. And you can make it at home in just over an hour – most of which is drying time.


Abi, one of our amazing MFM crafter mums, has shared the how-to instructions for making rainbow rice with us here – along with some lovely pics of her 2-year-old daughter Maisie having fun with it:

Maisie loves using rainbow rice with her toys and in her play kitchen. I even let her go wild, throwing it in the air pretending it’s rainbow rain! When it’s all over, I just scoop up the majority by hand and then vacuum up the stray bits
Abi Walker, mum to Maisie, 2
How to make rainbow coloured rice
Pic: Abi Walker

Here’s how to make rainbow rice:

What you'll need:

  • Food colouring (gel or liquid) or paint – in rainbow colours
  • Uncooked rice – as much as you wish
  • Sandwich bags – you'll need 1 for every colour shade you've picked out
  • Baking tray(s)
  • Aluminium foil or baking paper
  • Bowl or play tray

Here’s what to do:

  • Set out your food colouring or paint colours.
  • Divide your rice equally between the sandwich bags.
  • Squirt a few drops of food colouring or a dollop of paint into each bag – a different colour for each bag – and then seal the bags.
  • Shake the bags of rice until all the grains are fully covered in the colour.
  • Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper. If you have coloured a lot of rice, you may need more than 1 lined baking tray. Once all the grains are coated, spread the rice out onto the lined baking tray(s), keeping the different colours apart.
  • Leave to dry for around 1 hour – in the sun, if possible, or overnight.
  • Once it's all dry, mix the rice into a bowl or play tray and hand it over to your child for toddler fun!
How to make rainbow coloured rice
Pic: Abi Walker

Top tips

  • If you don’t have any rice handy, you can also use lentils – but the colours will be less vibrant.
  • If you’re worried about the potential mess, try putting the rice in an unfilled paddling pool on a sunny day.

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