Make Rice Pictures

Forget markers or crayons. For a really unusual art project, close the art supply cabinet, and crack open the pantry! This activity lets kids use colored rice to make pictures. Not only will it make for a fun project, but it will work your child’s pincer grasp, and help prepare him for proper pencil holding.

What You Need:

Uncooked rice

Rubbing alcohol

Food coloring in several shades

Glue (regular school glue will work, but rubber cement is best if available)


What You Do:

1. Color the rice: In a large bowl mix 1 cup rice with a half teaspoon of rubbing alcohol, plus a few drops of the food coloring of your choice (more drops mean richer color). Lay the rice in a jellyroll pan to dry. (This could take as long as one day, in a humid climate, or as short as 5-6 hours, in a hot and dry location.) Repeat with as many colors as you’d like.

2. Prepare the paper: Draw a basic picture on the paper, using a waterproof marker. Or, if you’d prefer, use a page from a coloring book.

3. Glue the rice: Generously paint one area of the picture with glue. Then show your child how to place the rice, piece by piece, onto it. Until the glue dries completely, it will move around, allowing your child to tweak the picture as needed during the process. She can lay the rice in rows or patterns to make a more elaborate picture, or add the rice in a more impromptu fashion. As she finishes each section, paint another area with glue and continue, until the picture is complete. Remember that placing the rice down piece by piece is what makes this a small motor activity. If your child gets tired and starts scooping it onto the page, stop and come back to it at another time. When the picture is finished, it’s time for a glue shower! To be sure that the rice will remain stuck, pour a coating of glue over the picture and allow it to dry overnight.

By Donna Lybarger

Donna Lybarger currently teaches kindergarten in Texas. Before that, she spent time as both a first grade and preschool teacher.

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