Dyeing Pasta or Rice for the Sensory Table

Materials Needed:
Rubbing Alcohol or vinegar
Pasta or Rice
Food Coloring or Liquid Water Colors or tempera paint
bowls or Ziploc Baggies
Drying area
Paper towels or paper bag (to soak up excess liquid)

1. Portion out your DRY pasta/rice into equal amounts for color distribution. I also dyed some Quinoa below same recipe. Place the pasta/rice in bowls or ziploc baggies.
2. Cover the pasta/rice in rubbing alcohol you don’t want the pasta/rice to be floating just cover to the top if its being made in a bowl if in a ziploc bag you can use as little as 1 tbs for a quart size bag. I also have used vinegar if using vinegar use only 1 tsp per 1 cup of grain or pasta in a ziploc baggie.
3. Add food coloring/ liquid watercolors, tempera paint. STIR.
4. Let set for several hours. I let most batches set for 1-5 hours depending on how deep I want the color to be. I have let it set for 12-24 hours and the pasta turns out fine if you need to let it go overnight. Make sure that your bowls are covered with plastic wrap or your ziploc baggies are closed securely
5. Drain the liquid and place the pasta/rice on a drying area put paper towels/ paper bag/ parchment paper underneath them to soak up excess liquid
6. Let dry for at least 2 hours
7. Enjoy! The alcohol does not absorb into the pasta or rice so they stay dry and crisp even after soaking.

Variation: This can be done with cooked spaghetti noodles for a fun sensory tub experiment!

We made colored rice to play with out of some seriously expired rice and pasta. Hey, its still good for play not so much for eating though.

And Another take where I used Uncooked Pasta in a Sensory Table I added pipe cleaners so the kids could make necklaces and bracelets.

And a Rainbow Pasta sensory bin. I make my rainbow pasta by adding 1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to 1 pound of pasta and enough food coloring or liquid colors to get the color intensity I want.


  1. Stephanie says:

    So do you cover the pasta with rubbing alcohol or just use a table spoon? because you said both.

    • debra92691 says:

      I have done both.both techniques work. Ithink when you cover completely you get a deeper color. But your drying time is definitely increased.

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