Posts tagged: rice crafts

Container – “Find It” Jar (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , July 5, 2009 5:17 pm


This post is a follow-up to last Sunday’s Tiny – Cool Colored Rice post.  The rice coloring was such a fun project in and of itself, that I decided just to focus on that.  I chose this week’s Unplugged Project theme of container because it fit nicely with our original reason for making colored rice in the first place:  A “Find It” Jar.

For a while now I have eyed these “Find It” games, thinking they would be fun for the car, travel or restaurants.  But the the potential fun factor never seemed to justify the price, so I have never bought one.

With a long plane ride to Europe in our near future, I found myself once again considering buying one for the trip (would they let this through security?).  But then it occurred to me that this could be fun and easy to make, so we decided to give it a try!

You’ll need a jar (a container!), preferably fairly tall and with a wide mouth.  I used a glass spaghetti sauce jar, but I would recommend something plastic for travel or young children (a mayonnaise jar perhaps?).

You’ll also need some colored rice and many small objects to hide.  I found that light, flat objects (like Legos) did not work very well since they seemed to stay on the surface of the rice.  Another idea would be to choose objects according to a theme: nature objects (pebbles, acorns, twigs, shells), or animals (little toy animals), etc.

Tip:  Consider the colors of your rice and how choice of color can increase the level of difficulty.  You could hide all green objects in green rice for example, or do as I did and hide a variety of different-colored objects in multicolored rice.

Normally you could just make a list of the hidden objects, but since I wanted my non-reading 3 year-old to be able to play too, I decided to make a picture card instead.

I laid out all the objects on a plain white piece of paper (for clarity) and took a photo of them.  Next I printed out the photo so my 3 year-old would know what to find:

The final step is to drop the objects into the jar and pour in the colored rice.

Don’t fill the jar completely, otherwise the rice and the objects won’t be able to move around very well.

Put the lid on (tightly!) and shake it up.

If you are worried about your children opening the jar and making a mess, you could glue the lid on.  If you don’t glue the lid on however, you can easily change out the hidden treasures for others to keep it interesting.

I glued a bit of ribbon around the lid to make it prettier, but that’s just me being an over-the-top perfectionist and is absolutely not necessary.

Give the jar and list or photo to your children and let them see how many objects they can find.  This is my 3 year-old giving it a go:

For older children,you could even give them a timer to race each other.  For solitary play, they can try to top their own best time!

NOTE – Storing the Colored Rice:  I finally found a use for the lovely, old-fashioned style French soda bottles that I had packratted away in the back of the pantry for years.  I keep them on the kitchen counter now because they look so pretty!  What do you think?


If you did a container-themed Unplugged Project this week then please link to your post below (not just your blog, we always want to be able to find your container post).  If you didn’t do a container project, then don’t link, but please read more about how to join in the Unplugged Project here.  We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Be creative and enjoy!


Tiny – Cool Colored Rice: An all-ages project!! (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , June 28, 2009 9:53 pm


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.

Instructions for how to make colored rice are all over the internet, such as here and here. Google “coloring rice” or “colored rice” and you will see!

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!

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