Dyed and scented rice is a staple for sensory play. It’s a lovely, and not too messy, tactile material to fill sensory bins or trays. You might have come across methods of dyeing rice that call for alcohol, or vinegar, or take a long time to dry out but this method that I used is really quick and easy.

The rice that you can see here in the pictures is lavender scented rice, and I dyed it pink and lavender.

Quick and easy dyed and scented rice for sensory play. This one is lavender rice

To make the lavender scented rice you will need these supplies. Adjust accordingly for different scents and colours:

  • 1 cup rice (any kind! We just used basmati rice from the kitchen cupboard)
  • liquid watercolour paints in your choice of colours (we use this brand)
  • lavender essential oil to scent (I use Young Living)
  • medium / large ziplock bag
  • tray (I love this one from Ikea for all kinds of sensory play activities)

If you want more rice, just multiply everything. 1 cup of rice makes enough to cover this tray but to fill a whole tuff spot you will need more.





supplies for scented coloured rice

How to colour the rice

Pour your cup of rice into the ziplock bag (if there are any holes in the bag, duct tape it over)

Add some drops of liquid water colour (quite a few drops – the more you add, the stronger the colour). We added mostly red, to make pink rice, and just a few drops of the blue to make lavender.

colouring riceSeal the bag, and give it a shake until the colour has moved through the rice, colouring all or most of the grains. Kids might like to help with shaking the bag.

At this stage, we opened the ziplock bag back up and dropped in the lavender essential oil. 1-2 drops is plenty. I would advise against adding more than that because if the lavender is too strong, it can be overwhelming and give you a headache. With only a tiny amount, you will still get that soft relaxing lavender scent.

dyeing rice for sensory playThe colour might be stronger in some grains than others, but I think that gives a nice effect. If you want the colours more even, then keep shaking for longer. Once you’re happy with the colours, pour the rice out onto the tray to dry and that’s it – done.

coloured scented riceIt didn’t take long at all for the rice to dry, and once it’s dry the kids can play and no colour will come off onto their hands. It’s relaxing to run your hands through the rice, pick it up, pour it, fill and tip containers.

IMG_6693You can add other things to create themed sensory bins. I’ll be sharing some sensory bin ideas using this dyed rice soon.

Once you’re done playing for the day, store your rice back inside a clean ziplock bag and you can use it again and again. The scent does fade over time, but the colour should remain strong. If you need to re-scent it, you can add another one drop of lavender oil to the bag and then shake it up again to spread it throughout.

playing with scented dyed rice


More Sensory Play Materials

Introduction to sensory play (Why is it beneficial for kids?)

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Follow Anna – In The Playroom’s board Sensory play and activities on Pinterest.