Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DIY Dying Rice for Sensory Table + Crafts

Hi! I'm Jennifer from Herding Kats in Kindergarten! I'm a 4th year teacher, living in Oklahoma. I've taught 2 years of kindergarten and this is my 2nd year of 1st grade. I'm an Army wife, an Army veteran and I have 4 kiddos of my own! To say that my life has prepared me to teach Early Childhood is an understatement! It seems like nothing every goes completely according to plan in the primary grades, so being adaptable is a must, and living the Army life with 4 children from 6 to 13 guarantees adaptability!

I've been blogging for a little over a year now. I try to share the things that we do in class, as well as the activities and games I create for my kiddos. I am a big proponent of play in the classroom - my motto is from Robert Fulghum's famous essay "All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten":

"Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some."

I try to incorporate this every day in class. Chances are if you stop by my classroom you will find us singing along with Dr. Jean or climbing a mountain while counting by tens with Harry Kindergarten. Even when I'm teaching 1st grade rather than kindergarten, I have a sand & water table, a paint center and a puppet theater right along side all of the "big kid"paraphernalia!

Recently I tried my hand at dying rice for some sensory exploration, with the idea that we would use it with spelling and sight words. I have to admit that I held off on this because I was intimidated by the idea of it. Surely it would be hard, messy and time consuming, right? Absolutely not!

I googled a couple of different recipes and came to the conclusion that a little bit of rubbing alcohol and food coloring was all I needed! Now, I have to share that I am not big on measuring, in fact, I avoid it at all costs. I'm more of a"throw it all together and cross my fingers" sort of gal than a "measure twice, cut once" type. Luckily, dying rice is so easy that there's no measuring needed!

Here's what I did:

photo of: DIY: Dying Rice for Sensory Tables at PreK+K Sharing

Pour a jot or two of alcohol in a plastic container, add food coloring and mix it in. This is especially important if you are mixing colors as otherwise some of your rice will be red and some yellow when you really wanted orange!

Add your rice - leave enough space at the top of the container so the rice can shake around easily. Secure your lid! This part is essential unless you want to sweep your floor a gazillion times (don't ask how I know this!). Shake, shake, shake! Check your rice - if you want it darker add a little more food coloring, if the color isn't spreading evenly add another jot of alcohol. Shake again!

Once you have the color you like, spread your rice on a baking sheet. The alcohol will evaporate very quickly, and the rice won't even smell like it! However, before it dries it will smell quite strongly, so if its a nice day you may want to set the baking sheet outside for a bit. Once the rice is dry you can place it into containers:

photo of: DIY Rice Dying by Herding Kats in Kindergarten @ PreK+K Sharing
DIY Dyed Rice on Display

Now, since I'm not the measuring type, I ended up with more rice than I could fit in my containers! I ended up pouring all the extra together and mixing it up. I'm a frugal person too, so I couldn't just throw it away, so I tried to come up with a craft we could do in class to use it up. The colors looked so pretty together that they reminded me of a Christmas tree. And since I didn't have a holiday hallway display yet, I decided to go ahead and have my kiddos do a little Christmas tree decorating in class!

In order for me to work this into my curriculum and justify spending time on this, we did have to add some writing to it. Luckily two of our spelling words this week are "green" and "tree". Voila! We will write sentences on the back of the paper using our spelling words! We also got some practice with drawing straight lines with a ruler- let me just say that we need a lot more practice and I ended up having to help almost everyone lol. Here's a sample of some of our sentences:

photo of: Christmas Writing from Herding Kats in Kindergarten at PreK+K Sharing

Once we had written our sentences, we turned the paper over and colored our trees. You'll notice that we had 4 different kinds of trees - I like to give my kiddos a variety to choose from, so that every project is unique! The only instructions I gave were to color the tree but not add the decorations yet as we were going to make those with the rice. I didn't specify colors, yet all but one student chose to use green and brown. The other little guy used pretty much every color in the rainbow :) 

I had set all of supplies on the floor by our sink and as they finished writing their sentences and coloring, I had them come over to use the rice. The first group to go through the process were very precise about placing their rice. They exercised those fine motor skills  by pinching each grain of rice and laying it in place!

photo of: Using Dyed Rice to Decorate Christmas Trees at PreK+K Sharing

I gave them three choices of paint brushes to apply their glue, and allowed them to experiment with applying the rice as they wished. A couple of kiddos in the first group decided to do a Christmas lights" effect by using the qtips to make lines of glue and then placing the grains of rice in rows.

My next group was a bit more rambunctious. They were very joyous in the process, and if more rice got on the floor than with the previous group, oh well, that's what vacuums are for, right?

photo of: Using Dyed Rice to Decorate Christmas Trees at PreK+K Sharing

When they had applied their rice to perfection, we added some "snow"! This is just a mix of Elmer's glue and shaving cream - again, no measurements, just pour about an even amount of each into a cup and mix it up. It dries puffy and is so fun to feel!

photo of: DIY Satiny Snow Craft Material at PreK+K Sharing

Now, this did get a little messy, as this picture of the aftermath shows, but, a quick pass with the vacuum and a little scrubbing with some wet paper towels and the floor was back to normal again!

Here are a few of our masterpieces! I love how each one is unique and reflects the personality of the child that made it!

photo of: Creative Christmas Tree Embellishment at PreK+K Sharing

I hope you enjoyed this look into how to dye rice and what to do with it afterwards! Please stop by my blog to say hi and look around!

-- Jennifer


  1. Debbie! Love the article and I'm going to pin those lovely vibrant images right now! All my best to you and your hubby!!

  2. Great craft! Two things....I laughed out loud reading this post....nicely done! I love that you included pictures of the rainbow tree! I really wanted to know what it looked like.


We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...