Rainbow rice. An amazing sensory play project that I have been waiting to do with the little miss. I first saw it when I was pulling together ideas for her rainbow sprinkles birthday party. I wanted to wait and introduce it at a later time. I figured St. Patrick's day was a great time to learn about rainbows and leprechauns! And with the gray weather we've been having, I need to see rainbows now more than ever!
Originally, I imagined this as a super fun St. Patrick's Day party activity. Then I had a vision of two overly excited two-and-a-half-year-olds flailing rice all over my house and well, I chickened out!! I still made two boxes of rainbow rice, but the girls could enjoy them on their own. (I can hear my own mother laughing out loud right now.)
I started with a 25lb bag of rice. This was exactly enough for 8 cups of each color of the rainbow. Coloring the rice is very easy and I was surprised at just how fast it went.
I put the 8 cups of rice in a gallon size ziplock bag. Next, 1-2tbsp of alcohol, which helps set the color, and as many liquid food coloring drops as needed to achieve the color desired. I started with 25-30 and increased it from there. Seal the bag and toss the rice in the bag until the color is distributed. Easy as that. Empty the bag onto a cookie tray to dry. The smell of the alcohol will go away as the rice dries.
Now to fill the boxes! I wanted something big enough for enjoyable play with funnels, buckets, etc., but not too big, I decided on 28 quart clear boxes with lids for easy storage. They measure 23" x 16 1/4" x 6". It worked out PERFECTLY for the 28 cups of rice I put in it (4 cups for each of the 7 colors of the rainbow). Enough rice to play with and have fun, but not too much to overflow into the house. Totally ideal for toddler size!
As I put each color in, I would push it towards the last color to make each color about 4" in width. Doesn't it make you smile?
To introduce Clementine to the fun of St. Patrick's Day: leprechauns, rainbows, shamrocks, and a pot of gold, I bought some golden coins and glittery shamrocks to hide in the rice.
I hid 6 shamrocks and 12 coins in each box.
I simply pushed them into the rice. Buried treasure in the rainbow! I told her all about leprechauns and I read her a little Irish poem that I had found. We talked about how tall they were, what color they liked to wear, and about their mischievous ways. And of course how they say they like to hide their treasure at the end of the rainbow! Next came the colors of the rainbow (I went with the classic ROYGBIV, she'll have to learn it eventually, right?!) As much as she thought all of this was so cool, all she really wanted to do was get her little hands into that box of rice!
She was very excited to find the coins and shamrocks. When they were all found she played for a VERY long time. Yes! I love a successful project. Will I be finding rice all over my house forever? Probably. But, I think it's worth it.
This is what the box looks like now...