Springtime Sensory Bin: Dying rice with DIY liquid watercolors

Springtime Sensory Bin

We are SO over winter. It’s actually been cold and rainy which we aren’t used to, and the flu has come and never wants to leave! We love to play with a sensory bin in our house, so I decided it was time to create a Springtime themed one to help bring in the spring weather!

When I thought about dying rice for a new sensory bin I knew I couldn’t use the method I did before. If you read our post on DIY Bath Paint, you know I HATE food coloring and the first sensory bin I did reminded me why. My fingers were stained, I had to bleach the stove where the color dropped, AND look how the colors turned out! So dreary and sad even that cute penguin can’t make it look like fun. While Aaliyah loves it, I really want the colors of the sensory bin to be vibrant so it’s also visually stimulating.

DIY Liquid Watercolors

So of course I went straight to Pinterest and discovered you can also dye rice with liquid watercolors! Yay! Buying liquid watercolors for $20 for 6? No way!

But I wasn’t giving up! Looking at liquid watercolors I realized they are literally liquid watercolors, like the paint cakes in liquid form. We had tried watercolors because I LOVE how they paint and blend. But water-paint-paper is a process my little one hadn’t been able to master yet. Instead she was more water-paper-more water-paper-touch the brush to every color.

I had some palettes I bought from the dollar store and some small containers I purchased there as well. I chose which colors I wanted for the sensory bin and put one paint cake in each container and filled it with warm water. I let them sit while I made breakfast, then stirred each to break up the rest of the paint.

Rice Dying

To dye the sensory bin rice I evenly distributed the rice into 5 plastic containers. I started adding the colors 1/4 container at a time. (Each container is about 1 1/2 tablespoons.) I then put the lid on and shake and swirl the container to spread the color. I like to put it in the container so I don’t waste plastic bags! Each color took a different amount, orange and blue took 1/2 container but pink (should’ve been red but pink looked better anyways!) and green took the whole container. If you want deeper, no pastel colors for your sensory bin you can put two cakes in each container. The hardest color was purple!! I ended up adding a second cake and refilling the container twice to get rid of the weird gray color it got the first time!

I know that other tutorial say to lay all the rice out on cookie sheets but I don’t have enough to lay out 5 containers. I just take the containers outside and let them sit in the sun for two hours. I stir after an hour so the bottom rice gets dry too!

After I let her paint with the leftover DIY liquid watercolors. They worked perfectly and were SO much easier to use!

Your springtime sensory bin rice is now complete! Aren’t the colors so cheery and beautiful?? Stay tuned for part two to see what we put in our spring sensory bin!


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  1. I love this! Do you use a small table top bin, or do you have a larger one (like a Fisher Price or Little Tykes One) that can stand independently?

    1. I use a small bin! I got one that is around 9×13 from the dollar store. It came with a lid so I store the different bins in the closet!

  2. Misadventures with Megan says:

    So pretty! Great activity for spring!

    1. Thank you! I love the colors.

  3. I made this for the older kids when they were little. I need to make it again for my 2yo. It is so much fun to watch them play. I love the springtime elements.

    1. It is so much fun!

  4. Marcie says:

    I love these Easter colors! I always mean to make one of these rice bins, but never get around to it

    1. Thank you! And you should they are so easy!

  5. Love this activity and the spring colors. I will try this with my little ones.

    1. Thank you! You will have so much fun!

  6. My kids are big now. I wish we did activities like this when they were little.

  7. The colors look great! I agree the pink works better then red! Love when it all works out đŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! Definitely a happy mistake!

  8. This is so cute, I want to try this with my daughter – she’s two. Is that to old to do sensory bins with? Also, I can’t wait to see what other things you put in it!

    1. My daughter turned two in December! She loves it and it can definitely be adapted for when they get older too. I posted part two as well!

  9. I am loving this activity. great idea!

    1. Thank you!

  10. einvergo says:

    I never made a sensory bin for my kids. Have I completely deprived them? I hear about them all the time now.

    1. Haha maybe yourself! I get at least 45 minutes of quiet time out of this, which is more valuable then gold in my house!

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