Construct a super fun and engaging rainbow rice sensory bin for your toddler or preschooler. It takes a little time to create but will entertain them for days!
If you follow me on Instagram you know that I love using cardboard tubes for activities. They are free and versatile and can be used with just about anything and for some reason toddlers and preschoolers just love them!
For this activity I combined a few tubes together with duct tape and added coloured rice. It was an absolute hit with my then 2 year old. She played with it for several days making it well worth the small engineering effort it took to get it to work.
I encourage you to give this one a try and you will forever be known as the best mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or caregiver ever. Make sure you take lots of photos of it so that you can marvel at your own genius!
Looking for other sensory bins using rainbow rice? Check out these fun ideas:
How to Make Tubes & Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin
- 9-10 Cardboard Tubes (i.e. toilet paper or paper towel rolls or wrapping paper cardboard tube)
- Coloured rice (see how to make below)
- Measuring Cups
- Duct Tape
- 2 Wooden Dowel Rod
- 41 Qt, Clear Sensory Bin (Large)
- Plastic Tablecloth
- Masking Tape
To make rainbow rice you’ll need:
- White rice
- Food Coloring
- White vinegar
- Large Ziplock Bags
- Baking Sheets or Tupperware containers
- Parchment Paper
For each colour use 1 cup of rice, 1/2 tsp of vinegar and several drops of food colouring. Combine everything together in the ziplock bad. Seal it carefully and mix contents throughly. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a few baking sheets or line a few Tupperware containers. Spread each colour of rice out on the parchment paper and allow it to dry over night.
Making Cardboard Tube Maze
There are many ways to set up the tube maze. I will show you how I did mine and you can adjust it for your space, tastes and needs.
First Set Up
Take one cardboard tube (paper towel roll) and use scissors to make two small holes at each end and insert the wooden dowels or wooden sticks inside. Secure the sticks to the tube with duct tape.
Using the scissors create four quarter sized holes on the top and bottom of the cardboard tube (see picture above).
Take either two toilet paper rolls or cut a paper towel roll in half and secure them to the bottom of the cardboard tube underneath the holes you just made.
Insert two funnels into the top part of the tube (see above and below pictures for reference).
Use duct tape to secure the sticks to the bottom of the sensory bin.
Second Set Up
To make the second structure I used a wrapping paper cardboard tube that was longer than a paper towel roll. If you don’t have a long tube available you can tape two paper towel rolls together.
Use the scissors to cut the end of 3 paper towel rolls on one side and then use the duct tape to secure them all together as picture below. You will have to play with the angle so that the rice follows through all of them. Secure this maze to the long cardboard tube using the duct tape.
Attach another funnel to the top of the maze using duct tape.
Use duct tape to secure the entire structure to the sensory bin.
Time to Play
Once you have secured both structures to the sensory bin (lots of duct tape is needed to do this!), you can add the coloured rice and measuring cups and then let your little one play!
Tips and Problem Solving
Here are some tips I learned from doing this activity with my two year old:
1. Make sure you set out the rules for sensory bin play up front. Tell your toddler or preschooler that the rice is to stay in the bin as much as possible. But remember rice will come out of the sensory bin. To help you with clean up tape a plastic tablecloth underneath the sensory bin to catch the rice that comes out. Secure the plastic tablecloth to the floor using masking tape. That way you can relax a bit and let them enjoy their play.
2. Keep the duct tape handy. You may need to do some touch up here and there to each structure so keep the duct tape handy. I found that as she played the structures occasionally became unstable. I had to re-secure each structure a few times using the duct tape.
3. Use funnels with large holes. One of the funnels I used did not allow for the rice to flow easily. Instead of letting her get frustrated by it, I switched it out and made a funnel using paper.
4. Set the activity up in a spot out of the way. With all the effort you put in to make this amazing activity you will want them to play with it for more than just one day! Set it aside in an out-of-the-way spot in your house so that you can pull it out easily again so that they can play it with for a few days.