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How to Make a Mosaic Rainbow Using Dyed Rice

How to make a dyed rice mosaic rainbow craft - This easy project is great for children's fine motor skills as they manipulate tiny grains of rice into a large mosaic. Perfect for the classroom as all the kids can work together to make one rainbow or at home where mom or dad can help. Great sensory experience with lots of texture.


This is an awesome project because it didn't cost a single cent. I used leftovers and odds and ends that we had lying around to dye some old, stale rice and to make the finished rainbow.

This project was really fun for me, but Grace (who recently turned 4) thought it was boring. I think an older kid, maybe 7 or 8, would think it was a fun project from start to finish.

How to Dye the Rice

After dying Easter eggs, we had six bowls full of dye sitting on our dining room table.

To make the dye, I had followed the directions on the food color box. I poured a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar into a glass bowl, added 20-30 drops of food coloring, and then some almost boiling water. By the time we put the rice into the dye, it had cooled to room temperature.

Throwing it out seemed like a huge waste, so I came up with a crafty idea – use it to dye something. We dyed pasta last summer and still have some sitting around, so I didn't want to dye any more, but rice!

My friend Heather suggested rice, and it seemed like a great idea.

My husband mentioned that we had some (very old) brown rice in the pantry cupboard, so we poured that into the dye. When he was looking for the brown rice, he also found a bit of jasmine rice leftover from… something. We poured that in, too.

Then we went to an Easter egg hunt. And to the mall. I have no idea how long the rice was in the dye.

Definitely hours. It was the biggest part of the day.

On my way to bed, I remembered the rice and dumped it, one color at a time, into a strainer.

I lined a stoneware pan with paper towels (because stoneware would absorb the water and make the rice dry quicker and paper towels would prevent the stone from getting stained by dye) and poured the rice from the strainer onto the paper towels to dry.

Can you see the difference between the brown rice and the jasmine rice? The jasmine rice absorbed the dye very nicely, becoming bright and colorful. The brown rice didn't absorb as much dye and stayed darker overall.

If I were dying rice again, I would use only white or jasmine rice.

After the rice was sufficiently dry, I put it into a zip-top bag.

I poured all of the rice into one bag, but I wish I had kept it separated by color. That would have made the project below go so much more smoothly.

Making a Dyed Rice Mosaic

We dyed the rice way back in April. A couple of weeks ago, we used it to make a project.

For our rainbow mosaic, we used the dyed rice, construction paper, markers, and some craft glue. That's it!

The first step is to draw your design. Grace wanted to make a puppy, but I talked her into a rainbow since my artistic skills are sorely lacking. You could also print out a coloring page from the internet and fill that in with dyed rice.

The next step is to fill a small section of your design with glue and then cover the glue with dry dyed rice.

After about ten minutes, Grace pronounced my mosaic project to be boring, a pronunciation that saddened me greatly. I had to finish the rainbow by myself.

I got a chunk of the rainbow finished before Grace needed my attention.

Don't tell anyone, but my husband really enjoys crafty projects like this. He offered to help me finish the mosaic. The only problem? He's colorblind and in denial. If you look closely at the almost finished rainbow below, you may notice that 2/3 of one stripe of the rainbow is the wrong color.

Keep that to yourself, okay?

The last step was to fill in the clouds with something fluffy and white. If you wanted to keep the mosaic idea going, you could use plain white rice to fill in the clouds. I wanted puffy-looking clouds, so I glued on some cotton balls that I'd pulled apart.

finished mosaic rainbow

That's it! The mosaic is finished.

Have you ever made a project with dyed rice?


© 2011 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “How to Make a Mosaic Rainbow Using Dyed Rice”

  1. Very cool. I’ve dyed pasta before, but it never occurred to me to do it with rice. What fun! I’m not crafty, either, but even I can do this.

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