How to Dye Rice

The easiest way to customize a sensory bin

For our Valentine’s Day sensory bin, I decided to try something new for the fill – dyeing rice. I had avoided making anything so complicated for our seasonal sensory bins, but I really wanted a red and pink fill for this festive sensory bin.

Overall, it took less than an hour to dye the rice and was easier than I anticipated. And everything you need to make this sensory bin fill can be picked up during your regular grocery store trip.

Dyed Rice in Sensory Bin

How to Dye Rice

Here’s what you’ll need

  • Uncooked white rice 
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring 
  • Gallon size zip bag (1 bag per color)
  • Measuring cups 
  • Large pan or container for drying rice 
  • Plastic fork


  1. Pour desired amount of rice into bag
  2. Add vinegar into the bag – 1 tbsp of vinegar per 1 cup of rice 
  3. Add several drops of food coloring into the bag. The more food coloring, the more saturated the hue the rice will be.
  4. Zip bag closed and shake rice around until fully coated with food coloring. It took me a few minutes of shaking and mashing the rice around to evenly coat. Add additional drops of food coloring as needed for desired color. 
  5. Pour rice onto pan or container to dry. Use plastic fork to loosen any clumps.
  6. Repeat for each color.
  7. Optional: Occasionally stir rice around on pan to ensure even drying 
Dye Rice for Sensory Bin - One Little Small Blog
Letting the rice dry after dyeing


  • Keep a Dustbuster handy for rice spills.
  • If dyeing a large amount of rice, it may be easier to split into smaller groups. For example, I dyed 4 cups of rice in each color. I found it easier to dye 2 groups with 2 cups of rice than one group of 4 cups of rice.
  • You can use any kind of uncooked white rice, but I noticed that the instant rice had the tendency to clump.
  • It took a few minutes to fully coat the rice in food coloring once I added all the ingredients. And I did have to add quite a bit of red dye for the right hue. 

Dyeing rice for a sensory bin is a great way to add some festive color to play time. It took less than an hour and used supplies we could easily pick up at the grocery store. It was definitely worth the time that it took to make!

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin - One Little Small Blog
Our Valentine’s Day sensory bin

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out our other sensory bin activities. And make sure to follow One Little Small Blog on Pinterest for even more great ideas!