Rice Art – Sensory Play for Older Kids

cat made out of grains of rice

We love dying rice with food coloring and Purell. My kids love the sensory play experience of manipulating on trays.

This time Emma surprised me by forming the rice into artistic creations. I was most impressed by her cat (above) and butterfly (below).

butterfly made out of grains of rice

She also formed the word “Boo” in honor of Halloween, a monster man, a flower, and a spider. And, of course, an “E” for Emma:

E for Emma made using grains of rice

Johnny and Lily weren’t interested in forming letters and pictures, but they did enjoy playing with the rice. Johnny focused on building a tall mountain of rice:

Johnny plays with colored grains of rice

And Lily was enthralled, watching it fall from her fingers:

Lily plays with grains of rice

We store our rice in an old Nutella jar, and though we lose a few grains every time we play, it should last us a long time. We pulled it out a few more times last week, and Lily played with it on her own for a full hour while Emma and Johnny were in school – and another hour after they came home and joined her!

Do you play with rice in your house? We’ve also turned it into some fun egg shakers!

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

31 thoughts on “Rice Art – Sensory Play for Older Kids”

    1. I love seeing her try new things as a young artist.

      I also love that, on her school test last week, when she was told to draw one rectangle, three triangles, one circle, four lines, and four squares, she followed the instructions in such a way that she built three houses, one with a door, and a sun with four rays =)

    1. His fingers are red, but that’s because he grabbed rice out of the bag while it was still wet from the dye. If you’re willing to wait a few seconds for it to dry, you don’t get food coloring on your fingers.

    1. It is super easy – add vinegar or rubbing alcohol or purell (alcohol-based hand sanitizer) to a bag of rice along with some food coloring, and shake. Then spread it out to dry and enjoy =)

  1. This is a fantastic idea… BUT! How on earth do you keep them from throwing it all over the counter/table and floor? Because that is what my boys would have the most fun doing!

  2. Emma’s rice pictures are amazing.

    I read your comment about Emma drawing the shapes in her test and then using her response to make a house. Go Emma!! Love that her creativity shines through. I bet the person marking the test smiled when they saw her brilliance!

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