Spring is in the air and that means everything is blooming!
What better way to start your toddler’s spring activity lineup than this Rainbow Spring Sensory Bin!
This activity is perfect to get your little one excited about the season.
We did this little setup along with our Easter Week for homeschool preschool.
We had a lineup of a lot of different Easter and Spring themed activities, I’ll post the entire schedule and set up in a separate blog post.
This activity, though, was not only super easy to set up, but both of my little ones (ages 3 and 1) enjoyed it the most!
So much so, that my daughter kept returning to it every morning for the next week!
Whether you are looking to incorporate this activity into your school or homeschool curriculum or if you’re just looking for something to keep your little ones occupied while you make dinner or clean, then this is perfect!
Set up the night before, and it will be ready to go the next day!
Let’s get started!
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Disclosure: I have included affiliate links to products that I have used and enjoyed. These are for your convenience. I do receive a small percentage of every purchase without any increase to your own price.
Before we begin, let’s get to what you’ll need!
Here’s the list of supplies to get your Rainbow Spring Sensory Bin going!
1. Clear Bin
As with any sensory bin activity, you will need a clear storage bin.
It seems simple enough, but it isn’t until you go looking for one that you realize how difficult it can be to find the perfect storage bin for sensory activities.
You don’t want one that is too big, you’ll need to use a lot more raw materials to fill it than is necessary, and you don’t want one that is too deep, a depth that will be easy enough for little arms to reach into.
The one I used is from Hobby Lobby, but you can find a similar one on Amazon.
Here is one with similar dimensions as the one I used.
This was the perfect size for us and it will definitely be used for plenty of other sensory bin setups in the future!
Any rice works well for this activity.
I used whole grain rice just because mine was ‘expired’ (that was the only kind that I felt guilt-free using up for this activity), and although I thought it wouldn’t dye as well as plain white rice, it still worked well.
I’m sure if you use plain white rice, the colors will come out brighter.
Just use whatever you have on hand for the sake of convenience.
So I dyed my rice six different colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo) just because I was short on rice to do all seven rainbow shades.
It honestly looked good either way!
I had to play around a bit to get the orange and indigo the right shades, but they still came out good.
I’ll go over my techniques in the ‘Rice Coloring’ section.
** You will also need white vinegar if you want to prevent the food coloring from transferring from the rice to little hands. **
4. Paper Plates
You will need these for the rice dying part.
You will need a separate plate for each color you will be dying your rice.
So, if you plan on having seven colors, you’ll need 7 separate plates.
Having a spare plate also helps to keep your un-dyed rice separate as you dye the rest in batches.
I would also recommend using paper plates versus regular plates as the food coloring can transfer from the rice.
Plus, this alternative offers a quicker and easier clean-up!
5. Easter Eggs
Easter eggs make a very cute addition to this setup.
The fact that they could be filled and closed gives them an added bonus.
Toddlers love to sort everything into anything that can hold something!
Since I made this sensory bin around Easter time, it was pretty easy to get access to some cute Easter eggs.
I don’t know where the ones in this sensory bin are from exactly since my daughter snagged them from one of the egg hunts we went to.
However, any bright Easter eggs would do!
You will also need an extra Easter egg for the rice dying part.
I would recommend using the largest egg you have (pictured above is the 3in x 2in egg I used), that way you are able to dye your rice in larger batches.
Whether they be Easter-themed or just spring-themed (flowers, birds, bunnies, other cute animals), these erasers make for a very exciting addition to this already bright and cheery sensory bin.
What I love about using erasers is that they are perfect sensory props.
They’re smooth, they’ve got substance in that they have some weight to them, and they come in all sorts of exciting colors and shapes!
My daughter had a blast sorting them, over and over.. and over again.
Because of the season, these were easy to pick up at my local Target.
Seriously, Target’s dollar aisle usually has everything I need for out at home pre-k activities!
Always the cutest assortments of various knick-knacks!
I purchased this super adorable Montessori-inspired wooden sensory kit from Amazon and have been using it for all of our sensory activities.
Not only is it a beautiful, natural wood collection, it’s the perfect size for little hands.
This specific set has containers with lids, scoopers, and, my favorite, what I call the ‘tweezers’ or training chopsticks.
These are perfect for helping your child develop their pincer grasp in preparation for holding a writing utensil and writing.
Finally, all of these beautiful pieces fit in a super convenient satchel for easy organization and storage!
The shredded paper really added some ‘oomph to the entire setup and made all of the other details ‘pop’!
It isn’t absolutely necessary but it makes for a more surprising presentation for the little ones.
I’ll admit, my daughter brushed the shredded paper aside when it came to actually playing in the bin, she was more interested in the erasers.
However, you never know which textures and objects will be most appealing to your toddler, the whole point of a sensory rub is to include a variety of different stimulants.
How To Make Your Rainbow Rice
Now, before we jump into the set up of this sensory bin, we must not forget to make one of the most important elements for it!
The rainbow rice!
Obviously, you will need to dye your own rice as (sadly) rice is sold in plain white and brown shades.
Don’t worry, this process is SUPER easy, the only catch is that you’ll need to give your rice at least a night to dry.
I actually really enjoyed this part, something about seeing the rice get painted to different colors.
I have a feeling you might enjoy it as well!
Now before you continue, you will have to first coat all of your rice in white vinegar.
The purpose of this is to prevent the dye from transferring from the rice to your child’s hands during sensory play.
You will need to use about 1 tsp of white vinegar per every 1 cup of rice.
Once you have coated your rice well, you can continue.
1. Separate Your Rice Evenly Into Six Different Plates
So I did six plates for six colors just because I didn’t have a whole lot of rice to work with.
If you can, you should definitely do the full seven rainbow shades!
Also, depending on your bin, you might need anything between 1/2 to 1 full cup of rice in each plate to fill in the bin decently enough.
My plates had between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of rice, and although I was worried that it might be too little, it actually worked out well with the box that I used.
Just remember, you will be lining up each color next to one another, so although it might seem like it won’t be enough, you won’t be filling such a big space as you might think.
All that you really need to do is fill in each section, so that the bin itself is covered up.
That’s all the kiddos really need to have fun!
2. Spoon In Some Rice Into A Spare Easter Egg
It would be good to use the largest Easter egg you have just so that you could dye more rice at one time.
Also, you don’t want to fill up the egg too much since you want to make sure that the dye gets incorporated well into each section of rice.
Don’t worry about ruining your Easter egg, if you’re using liquid food dye then it should easily wash off after a quick rinse.
Just make sure you rinse your egg well before you move onto your next color so that there is no ‘contamination’ and your colors come out the best they can.
3. Add Two-Three Drops of Dye, Accordingly, Onto The Rice In the Egg
If you want your rice to be a bright shade of each color, you will want to add at least two drops of the food coloring onto it.
You don’t want to add too much food coloring either since the more food coloring you add the darker the shade the closer you get to a black color.
So keep it balanced.
You will also have to consider the colors you will be ‘mixing’, if you specifically do not have food coloring colors in orange or indigo.
When mixing these colors, I would use three drops of food coloring total; two yellow and one red for orange, and two red and one blue for indigo.
If you want an even lighter shade, you will have to dilute you darker colors; the red for the orange and the blue for the indigo.
If you aren’t sure how a color will look or mix, you can try on a smaller amount of rice before attempting to dye the entire plate immediately.
4. Close The Egg And Give The Rice A 15 Second Shake
Once you add the dye, you are ready to mix.
Make sure that you close the egg securely before mixing, or else you’ll have a considerable mess in your hands.
Shake up the egg contents for at least thirty seconds.
5. Make Sure All Of The Rice Inside The Egg Is Completely Dyed
After shaking it up, remove the lid from your egg to check if the dye is spread evenly across all of the rice.
If your rice looks good, then move onto the next step.
If your rice isn’t as bright as you’d like, the fix is easy.
You can either replace the lid and shake the contents up a little longer, or you can add an additional drop of dye first and then shake some more.
Make sure you like the color before moving onto the next step(s).
It would also be ideal to place this newly dyed portion into a separate plate before proceeding
6. Repeat Steps 2-5 Until All The Rice On The Plate Is Dyed
Once you dye your first portion of rice, you will see how easy it really is.
Now, continue these same steps to dye the rest of the rice in the same specific color plate.
Once you are done dying all of the rice of that specific plate, make sure to wash out the food coloring out of the egg well before moving onto different color plates.
7. Repeat Steps 2-6 For The Remaining Plates Of Rice, In Accordance With Their Designated Colors. Let The Rice Dry Overnight.
Repeat steps 2-6 over and over again with the remaining plates.
Designate the color for each plate before starting on it.
To make things a little more convenient just go in the same color order as you plan to do your rainbow set up.
Oh, and again don’t forget to rinse your eggs well before moving onto the next color!
Once you finish dying all of the rice, let each colored plate of rice air-dry overnight.
You will need at least that much time (I’d suggest a little more!) before you allow your little ones to dig in.
Otherwise, the dye will transfer onto your baby’s hands.
Your dye might still transfer, so you could also try spraying your rice with some hairspray before letting it dry overnight in order to minimize the color transfer.
Now that the main portion of your setup, the DIY, is complete, you are ready for assembling!
Start with your plates of dyed, dried rice and begin laying out each color evenly across the bottom of your clean plastic bin.
Make sure that you correctly arrange the colors to reflect the colors of a rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple).
You don’t have to use a whole lot of rice for this activity to look nice and be enjoyable, just have enough of each color to cover the bottom of the bin.
Once you have your colors laid out, you can move onto the Easter trinkets!
The first thing I laid out into my rainbow rice is the bunny eggs.
I like to start with the biggest accessories and move down to the smaller ones just for the sake of aesthetics and placement.
Next trinkets down the line are the large erasers.
Depending on which specific erasers you get, you could start grouping certain details to encourage creative play.
I had a large bunny and carrot erasers so I made sure that at least one combo was close enough.
Add in the rest of the small erasers.
Scatter them everywhere!
These will be played with and sorted the most, so the more mixed in these are the better.
So colorful and vibrant!
The colors and details even get me excited!
Next, add in your wooden sensory tools in spaces around your eraser.
You could even add some of the small erasers into some of your bowls!
Last but not least, add in some shredded paper for extra fun!
This step is not absolutely necessary, so if you don’t have shredded paper readily available, just gloss over this section.
And there you have it!
A super simple and easy spring sensory bin set-up!
The only thing I would emphasize is that you use what you have on hand and don’t get stressed over not having a certain detail.
As long as your trinkets are different colors and fit the theme, your toddler will have a blast playing with this sensory bin!
With this sensory bin, you definitely want to prep in advance because you will be dying your rice and having to wait overnight until it dries.
One thing that my daughter really enjoyed was seeing the rice change colors depending on how many drops of food coloring we added.
It was also a great way for us to have some fun shaking up these temporary ‘maracas’ and making music in the process.
Both made way for great lessons on colors and music, respectively.
Now with the actual spring sensory bin set-up, I made sure to prep this out of the view of my daughter.
That way she was extra thrilled when I took it out for her to play with.
You could have your bin hidden away and ready to go when you need some extra time.
It will be sure to keep your little ones occupied for some time!
Just make sure that you are ok with and ready for some rice spills to occur.
I always have my handheld Dyson within reach for a quick pickup of any rice that may escape.
What If I Don’t Have Rice?
In the event that you don’t have spare rice to just give away for sensory play, you could also use cooked noodles and dye them similarly.
If you don’t want to dye any foods you can opt instead just for some rainbow rice crispies cereal or rainbow marshmallows.
Trying to stay away from food products in general?
There are plenty of exciting and colorful non-food alternatives.
The first thing that comes to mind for me is shredded paper, and what makes it so great is that it’s also recycling.
Colored rocks/pebbles and gems also make for colorful sensory fun.
Thanks For Reading!
As I navigate through teaching my littles, I hope that what I learn and do inspires you.
Playtime is great both when it is independent and spontaneous and when it is guided and prepped ahead.
In either case, it should never be stressful.
The goal of my blog is to help moms like myself eliminate the stress that comes with toddler and pre-k activity prep by providing easy activity set up ideas, monthly pre-k homeschool schedule and curriculum ideas, along with much needed mom hacks, tips and tricks for that toddler life.
If it’s just helpful for one mom, that makes it still worth it!
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Until next time mommas!