How to Dye Pasta for a Sensory Bin

Have you ever wondered how to dye pasta or how to dye rice to make sensory bins for kids? Here is a step-by-step guide to get you started and ideas for ways to use the colored pasta or colored rice. 

How to Dye Pasta

How to dye pasta for a sensory bin


  • Rubbing Alcohol orDistilled Vinegar (1-2 Tablespoons)
  • Food coloring (Approximately 1 teaspoon)
  • Dried, Uncooked Pasta (3 cups)
  • Newspaper or Parchment paper


how to dye pasta for a sensory bin


First, pour the rubbing alcohol or vinegar into a gallon-sized zip top freezer bag.



Next, add the food coloring (10 or more drops) and swirl the bag gently to mix the food coloring with the alcohol.



Then, place the pasta into the bag and seal the bag closed.

Toss and shake the bag until the pasta is evenly coated in color. If additional food coloring is needed, add it and continue shaking the bag to coat.


How to Dye Pasta for Sensory Bins


When the pasta is completely coated, transfer the pasta to a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper or newspaper.

Spread the pasta into an even layer and allow to dry for several hours, stirring once.

You can also dye rice for sensory bins. 

coloring rice

How to Dye Rice

  • 1 lb. of rice
  • 1/2 tsp. of food coloring,
  • 1 tsp of rubbing alcohol


how to dye rice
Use the same process as dying the pasta. 
Tip: The longer you let the rice or pasta soak in the bag, the darker the color gets.
Tip: You can also use liquid watercolor paint to dye the pasta or rice if you have that on hand.
How to dye rice for sensory bins
You can make themed sensory tubs with rice or pasta as your base.

Check out these 100 Sensory Bin Ideas organized from A to Z for inspiration.

Before making a themed sensory bin, let your child spend time playing with the pasta or rice using different materials such as:
  • bowls
  • cups
  • spoons
  • muffin tins
  • containers
  • funnels
  • cupcake liners

Trust me, this will provide hours of fun and entertainment.

Name Sensory Bin

We have also practiced how to spell names with a Name Sensory Bin


how to dye pasta for sensory bins



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  • Reply Christy

    My kids are always happy to play with dyed rice. It’s amazing how much they enjoy it.

    October 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm
  • Reply Bonna

    The measurements for dying 1 pound of rice:

    1 lb. of rice
    1/2 tsp. of food coloring
    1 tsp of rubbing alcohol

    Put the alcohol and food coloring in a bag together and add rice. Mix until all the color is absorbed. I have found that dumping the rice out on cookie sheets works really well. If it is a hot sun outside I put them outside to dry. Newspaper would work just as well. 🙂

    I love the money this saves me! My daycare children love this.

    October 20, 2010 at 12:48 pm
  • Reply Sam and Boo Book Reviews

    For some reason, this concept is completely new to me. Looks fun. We’ll have to try it.

    October 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm
  • Reply Lori

    This looks so simple and fun too. You always have great things to share. 🙂

    October 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Water Colors (like coloration from Discount School Supplies) works wonders also! Plus there is little to no drying time!
    Thanks for reminding me of how fun colored rice can be!

    October 20, 2010 at 6:12 pm
  • Reply Sippy Cup Central Mom

    I am so glad you tried it…thanks for the link love. Karen
    Sippy Cup Central Mom

    October 20, 2010 at 6:42 pm
  • Reply Jessika

    I like to dye rice for the children I teach. Another way I do it is use small containers which the children can then shake to colour the rice. I then put it on plastic trays and leave in the sun to dry =) I have used newspaper but found the rice got stuck to it – did you have this issue?

    October 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply Elle Belles Bows

    Thanks for sharing! I have been meaning to do some colored rice for Elle’s sensory tub! Kerri

    October 21, 2010 at 1:21 am
  • Reply Time For Play

    FYI…you don’t have to add the alcohol. The colors will mix just fine with the rice and you don’t have that yucky smell. I have always made it with alcohol as well until I watched this video..

    November 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm
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