Easy Rainbow Activities To Do With Kids

How to dye rice for rainbow sensory bins... plus magic with candy!

By Emily Papa, publisher of Macaroni Kid South Hills, Pa. March 18, 2021

Rainbows are magic, no matter how old you are! You might not be able to touch the ones in the sky, but here are two kid-friendly rainbow activities that can help you bring that rainbow magic down to the ground and into your home ... because we all could use a little more color in our days!

Rainbow tactile sensory bins

Sensory bins are a fav in this house, for parents and kids alike. I appreciate how creative we can get on a budget with such simple items and love how much my kids enjoy playing in them ... getting their hands dirty without really getting them dirty. (Learn more about the importance and benefits of tactile sensory play from a pediatric occupational therapist). For this colorful bin, I enlisted help from my son from the beginning to end, letting him choose which colors he wanted to make and walking him through each step. While we made a rainbow theme, you can use whatever colors you like, and we'll teach you everything you need to know on how to dye rice for sensory play. 

Supplies needed:

  • 1 bag of white rice 
  • Food coloring
  • White vinegar
  • Sandwich-sized sealable bags
  • Bin
  • Cookie sheet
  • Wax paper


1. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper and set aside. (When I am doing a rainbow or dying multiple colors, I use separate pieces of wax paper to keep the colors separate and just fold the paper in a "V" to separate the colors. Or, you can use separate sheets for each color.)

2. Divide your rice evenly in the plastic bags, depending on how many colors you will have. We used approximately 1 cup of rice per bag. You can also do this in separate glass or metal mixing bowls, but I like the bags for easy clean-up.

3. Add 10-15 drops of food coloring to achieve your desired color with 1 tablespoon of vinegar (I use the color chart on the side). Pour this mixture into your bag of rice and seal completely.

4. Combine the colored vinegar mixture with the rice by shaking and kneading the bag (a great job for little hands) until all the rice is one color and the vinegar has been absorbed. If you want to add more color, repeat steps 3 and 4.

5. Spread colored rice in an even layer on the paper you laid out on the cookie sheet. Repeat for each color you are making.

6. Let rice dry, turning if needed (usually takes about an hour).

7. Pour your rice into your bin. When I'm doing the rainbow, I actually lift each piece of wax paper up, holding it in that "V" shape I created and place them all side by side in the bin. I pull each one out one by one, allowing the wax paper of the neighboring color to be a barrier, so the colors go in evenly and don't mix together.

Add an educational component to this: Talk about rainbows, identify colors, use the measuring spoons, and count food coloring drops.

Now enjoy and watch the smiles!

Magic with Skittles

Our second activity is so easy it feels kind of like cheating, but I promise your kids will think it is so cool! For this you will need a bag of Skittles, a small saucer that has an elevated rim, and warm water. 

1. Place the Skittles around the outside rim of your plate. This is great for little fingers, identifying colors and patterns and talking about the colors of the rainbow. 

2. Once your Skittles are in a circle, slowly pour water until it touches all the Skittles. Be careful not to overflow your plate! 

3. Wait for the magic 🌈!

4. I let my kids use a fork to swirl the colors in the end and talk about what happens when you mix primary colors. 

See how it all turns out on Macaroni Kid South Hill's Instagram reel!

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Emily Papa is the publisher of Macaroni Kid South Hills, Pa.