Sensory Play with Colorful Rice

Who wouldn’t love to engage in sensory play with colorful rice?

My students looked forward to their Orton Gillingham lessons to see what fun and messy activities I had in my basket of goodies. I made certain their fingertips were engaged in every lesson. Engaging the fingertips during an Orton Gillingham lesson is essential for literacy development, as they have a direct connection to the language part of the brain. This is why braille is so effective as a language tool for the visually impaired.


For this blog post, our sensory play with colorful rice will have a Christmas touch… just a hint of pastel red & green rice will work its magic in any Orton Gillingham lesson, but especially during the holiday season.


Let’s get right to the “how to” so you too can give that structured Orton Gillingham lesson a little extra splash of excitement your students will not want to miss. Boosting student engagement will be especially important during the holiday. From Elf on the Shelf to Christmas parties and festivities, their minds will be particularly occupied (and I don’t think it will be on the OG lesson 😉 )


Grab a bag of white rice. A 32 oz bag will give you about 2 1/2 cups of red and 2 1/2 cups of green rice for sensory play.


Sensory Play with Colorful Rice


Place 2 1/2 cups of rice in a large plastic baggie. Add about a tablespoon of paint (non-toxic and washable) & 2 tablespoons of water to thin the paint. Have fun mixing and kneading the bag until the rice is a pretty and uniform color. Dump the rice out onto a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan to dry. Be sure and follow these steps for both the red rice and the green rice.


Sensory Play with Colorful Rice



Sensory Play with Colorful Rice


Sensory Play with Colorful Rice


Once rice has dried completely, mix both colors of rice together …and voilà… Engaging and fun sensory play with colorful rice!



Benefits of Sensory Play:

  • Builds fine motor skills
  • Allows for a child to be creative, imaginative, and explorative
  • Increases attention and student engagement
  • Builds social skills and turn-taking
  • Enhances language development


Colorful Rice Recipe


  • 32 oz bag of white rice
  • Non-toxic red and green paint (or color of choice)
  • Water
  • 2 large Ziploc baggies
  • Parchment paper
  • Jelly roll pan


  1. Place 2 1/2 cups of white rice in 2 baggies. Add a tablespoon of the non-toxic paint (color of your choice) and 2 tablespoons of water to each of the rice baggies. Knead each of the baggies with your hands until the paint has thoroughly coated the rice and it has a uniform color. Pour the rice from each bag onto parchment paper lined jelly roll pans to allow to dry. Once dry, you are ready to use your rice. You can also use fun scents for your students to enjoy using various essences found in the baking aisle (almond, cinnamon, strawberry, etc...)
  2. Uses for the colorful rice:
  3. Pour on sand tray for tactile learning
  4. Pour rice in a rather deep container & mix in plastic letters for a "letter archeology dig" to create words
  5. The ideas are limitless. Use your creativity to make learning the English language fun and engaging.


I hope you & your students enjoy sensory play with colorful rice. Keep doing what you are doing because the world needs what only you have to offer!


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