Our Weekly Unplugged Project post for this week’s theme of tiny is coloring rice (a grain of rice is tiny, right?).
Not very original, but I was going to take this a step farther with a colored rice project. However this simple first step was such a HUGE hit with my kids of all ages and genders, that it deserves its own post.
I like color. There is not one white wall in my house. Therefore I have always wanted to try coloring rice. Is that a logical progression to you? It is to me.
We needed a large bag of white rice. Don’t use brown rice or parboiled (which is sort of beige), since the colors will show up better if the rice is as white as possible.
I checked all the prices per ounce at our one local grocery store and found a 10 pound bag for about $8.00 (I am sure you could shop around and find a much better deal than that).
You’ll also need rubbing alcohol (maybe), food coloring, and plastic ziploc baggies.
I read somewhere that you can use vinegar instead of alcohol, or it can be done simply with food coloring alone, but the rice might not be as brightly colored.
We did a few batches without alcohol and they were fine, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference and the smell when damp was a lot better without it (the alcohol smell does disappear once the rice is fully dry). I would skip the alcohol next time.
Some people say that paste food coloring produces a brighter result, but I thought ours turned out great with liquid coloring.
I passed out a baggie to each child and then scooped a few cups of rice into each baggie.
Next I added a bit of alcohol to each baggie (not much, a teaspoon maybe?).
Each child chose a color to make and dropped in the appropriate color, or mixture of colors.
NOTE: This is a really fun project for learning how colors mix (if you are a kindergarten teacher or homeschooling parent, be sure to remember this one, because it would make a great kindergarten color project)!
The really fun part is shaking and smooshing the baggie to spread the color.
Just be sure the baggie is closed properly. We had a bit of an accident as you can see here:
(I found these instructions that call for a plastic margarine container for the mixing instead of plastic bags. This method might be safer, as long as you make sure the lid is on tightly.)
We discovered that the more you smoosh and shake, the more uniformly distributed and solid the color is. If you only do a bit of mixing, enough to just barely color everything, you get a very pretty variation of colors which I preferred:
Once you feel the rice is colored to your satisfaction, then spread it on a foil covered baking sheet and put it in a 200 degree oven until dry.
Stir about half way through the process to uncover the wetter rice from underneath. It took about 15 minutes for us, but if you put in a lot of liquid color and alcohol, it might take a bit longer. You can also let it air dry, but I am far too impatient for that.
The cooled, dry rice was irresistible to little hands. Even I had to touch it and sift it through my fingers. What a great, Montessori sensory material!
After the rice is dry and cool, use it right away or store it in a baggie or jar.
My kids and I all LOVED this project! We made lots and lots of colors. The children experimented with different color combinations and amounts of mixing.
One of my favorites was this one, where my 7 year-old son put many different colors in. I anticipated a big muddy brown mess, but he didn’t mix it up much and ended up with quite a variety of lovely earth tones in his batch, as you can see here:
Remarkable fact: The kids are 8 (girl), 7 (boy) and 3 (girl)…plus a guest: age 8 (boy), and me (girl)… age more than 8 and less than 100, and we ALL loved this project. It is hard to find a project that appeals to all ages, but this one was it for us.
As my oldest daughter said, “Our kitchen is a colored rice factory!!”
By the way, anticipate a good lesson in vacuum cleaner use after this project.
Also note the hopeful dog parked strategically under the kitchen table, just waiting for falling goodies:
Did you do a tiny Unplugged Project this week? If so, then please put your link (to your post, not just your blog) in the Linky below. If you didn’t do a tiny project this week but would like to learn how to join in future Unplugged Projects, then please do not link, but read more about how to join in here.
The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:
Enjoy and be creative!