Making colorful and scented rice for preschool

When I get started on something – I just keep going until I have exhausted all the ideas I can come up with or until all my dishes are dirty or until I run out of supplies – which ever comes first.

This week, I worked on making colored rice to use for a variety of projects and sensory activities. I don’t yet have a plan as to when I will use the rice, but I know I want to use it at some point.

I started off making the rice using this recipe from Praying for Parker. I added about a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and about about 30 drops of food color to a quart size baggie then mixed added about 2 cups of rice and mixed it all together…

I wanted brilliant colors – so I added lots of food color. I liked using the alcohol and food color combination because it helped the rice to dry almost instantly. The key to making this is to not overdo the amount of liquid you mix the rice with and to let it dry completely before putting it away in an airtight container…

The one thing I didn’t like about using the rubbing alcohol was that it left the rice with a slight alcohol odor. So I got to thinking that maybe I could try dying the rice with a little bit of Koolaid instead. I mixed one packet of Koolaid with a tiny bit of very hot water so the Koolaid would dissolve completely.

Then I poured the dissolved Koolaid powder over the 2 cups of rice I had in the bag….

Then I sealed the baggie closed and mixed the Koolaid liquid through the rice…

Then I set it out on a piece of wax paper to dry overnight.  Since I used a water based liquid, I wanted to give the rice extra drying time before putting it away…

I tried out several colors of Koolaid packets I had in the house and discovered the red, orange, blue, and purple colors had the brightest finish and the strongest smell ….

Make sure the Koolaid is dissolved completely before trying to mix it with the rice. I used the end of a spoon to stir the Koolaid in the water just to be certain…

I even tried making some chocolate rice by using cocoa – it turned out okay but was a little harder to get it to mix correctly because the cocoa and water stayed thick…

But in the end – the cocoa rice worked out too. Not my favorite but it is a keeper!

Overall, the Koolaid rice turned out maybe a tad lighter than the food color/alcohol rice but not so much that it mattered. In one bag, I added a little food color to the koolaid because I thought it was too light. The smell of the Koolaid rice adds a new sensory experience that can be really fun!

Now that I have my collection all ready to go, I need to decide what I want to do with it. The gang on Teach Preschool on Facebook gave me lots of ideas! Oh, and I stored all my rice in plastic jars I bought from the Dollar Store!

If anyone wants to read more comments about using or making colored rice – click here… to view the comments left on Facebook!

I am linking this post to A Mommy’s Adventures stArt!


    • Deborah J. Stewart says

      Hi Ayn,
      I thought it would be a new twist on an old idea that I had never tried before. So we will see if the smell stays good when I take it to school:)

  1. says

    wow! great idea! (I’m so glad YOU’RE experimenting with these possibilities- my husband would just laugh if I was adding kool-aid to rice…but now I can tell him it IS possible and will work out just fine!)

    • Deborah J. Stewart says

      I think I will just sit and stare at all the pretty bottles for a while – then come up with something for the kids to use the rice for:)

  2. says

    Deborah- a little vinegar with the Kool-Aid will work too. And, for the colors that are not as scenty or vibrant use 2 packages instead of one and/or add a little bit of Wilton Food Coloring. I always use the paste for more vibrant colors! My husband thinks we should buy stock in Kool-Aid considering how much of it we use, and my eight year old son asked me the other day if maybe we could try and drink the Kool-Aid sometime. He doesn’t ever remember drinking it!

    • Deborah J. Stewart says

      Hahahaha! We never drink the Koolaid here either. I really only keep it for art projects I am working on. Thanks for all the tips Amy – when I get another surge of energy to work on this, I will look back here and try out your ideas!

  3. Sarah says

    The alcohol and food color also works to dye pasta, FYI. I used it to make orange and black macaroni for the Halloween sensory table. I can only seem to find black food coloring around Halloween…I was trying to dye that wagon wheel shaped pasta white to use for snowflakes using watered down white paint but I never could get it to work…

    • Deborah J. Stewart says

      Hi Sarah,
      I want to try pasta too very soon:) I will have to go out and get more supplies!! I wonder if white shoe polish would work on the pasta to make it white..

  4. Stacey says

    It’s been a while since I dyed rice. I normally do it the old fashioned way with the alcohol and lots of food coloring. I will be using kool-aid this time though. Thanks for the idea! Where did you get your containers? I love them too.

    • Deborah J. Stewart says

      Hi Stacey,
      I got the containers from the Dollar store:) Or here it is called “Deals!”

  5. says

    What a great idea. And perfect timing.
    I’ve been playing with the idea of dying some rice, putting it and some small toys (choking hazzard size) into a container and gluing the top on. Then letting the boys play with the containers, rolling, shaking and turning to see what they can find in the rice.

  6. Holly Berens says

    My mom made a large container of dyed rice with food coloring. The only draw back is my son’s hands are really dirty afterwards because the coloring rubs off. Has anyone noticed if the Kool-aid rubs off on the kids hands?

    • Deborah J. Stewart says

      Hi Holly,
      I haven’t tried the Koolaid version with the kids yet so I am not sure if that will rub off. I haven’t had the rice with alcohol dye come off on hands though. I wonder if it has to do with how much color you add? I am not really sure!

  7. says

    I absolutely LOVE this!!

    In fact so much I have just run into my kitchen and made a load of different colour batches..hoping it will be dry for the morning!!

  8. Rachel says

    Try using oil instead of alcohol for the cocoa 😉

    I always died my rice with just a small bit of oil and food coloring….works great 😉