Bedtime sensory tub: lavender dyed rice

How to make a lavender sensory tub with dyed, scented rice. Lovely!

Ahh, just looking at that picture makes me relax a little. We often use sensory play  as a lovely way to chill out after school, or to transition from a busy day towards bedtime. Tired children sometimes need a little direction and sensory play offers an activity idea that’s interesting but also calming and relaxing. Play dough is our favourite choice for sensory play but today we tried something different: lavender dyed rice. It’s touchy-feely and smells wonderful – perfect for chilled out kids. Here’s how to dye rice and make a bedtime sensory tub.

Bedtime sensory tub: how to dye rice

Start by placing your uncooked rice in a plastic bag – double bag as a precaution against tears and spills!

Then mix up your colour. I blended blue and pink food colouring to make a lovely lavender shade.

Pour the food colouring into the bag of rice and stir, stir, stir to distribute the colour.

Lay out the rice to dry over night and your rice is ready. Easy peasy!

To add an extra sensory element to our bedtime tub we added the flower heads from some lavender stalks. The rice has such a pleasant feel, as it’s soft and pours through your hands. With the added lavender it smells so relaxing too.

You could add scoops and spoons and bowls for your children to play with the rice. Or hide some little treasures in the tub for them to hunt for. My kids didn’t even want to wait for me to add any extras – the colour, scent and feel of the rice was irresistible and they just had to play straight away.

super sensory footerSuper Sensory Invitations to Play

Ready for a whole year of exploring through the senses? Super Sensory Invitations to Play is a delightful resource that encourages your children to explore the five senses through the year, using a wide variety of sensory materials. It includes 52 invitations to play, linked to the festivals and seasons of the year, and including water, ice, dough, rice, paints, sand, sensory tubs, and more.

They are easy, simple, and fun ideas that you can use right now to give a multi-sensory boost to your play and learning. It comes with a printable recipe book featuring all our favourite recipes for play. Come and see more here.


  1. Emma says

    Love the lavender rice, have found a mess free way to colour the rice than in the bag, if you use a old plastic tub with a lid (Take out tubs, or old sandwich box)you can even add the lavender at this stage too, and just shake, it’s less mess and the kids can do it too,Keeps pretty well too xxx

  2. says

    What a wonderful idea! I’m going to try this before naptime, since my little guy has such a hard time falling asleep. Maybe he will relax with the added lavender…maybe I should try it, too. 😉

  3. says

    Hi Cathy.
    Does the colour come off on the children’s hands?
    Do you think that adding lavender essence would work to enhance the scent?
    I’d love to make them for a montessori pouring activity in practical life

    • Cathy @ NurtureStore says

      Hi Clair. No, it didn’t come off on the children’s hands at all – but I think that will depend on which brand of food colouring you use. We use Silver Spoon Create colouring. You could add lavender essence but the scent was strong enough just from using the real lavender flower heads, so I don’t think you’d need it.

    • Christina says

      When I color rice, I add a tsp of white vinegar per cup of rice to help the color stay put. Plus the rice dries in about twenty minutes. Then you could add the lavender and you’re ready to go :)

    • says

      Yes Laurel, you sure could. You’ll obviously not have purple rice, but the white rice would look just as lovely. The fragrance comes from the lavender so the tub will still have lovely sensory qualities even without the colour.

  4. Ms. Tracie says

    Use a tablespoon or two of alcohol with the coloring. I usually use watercolor paint (I think from S&S) and put it in zip lock bags to mix. Then spread it out on newspaper to dry. The alcohol helps the rice dry faster and it does not rub off on the children’s hands once it is dry. Love the idea of adding lavender. I always scent my play doh but never thought to scent rice!!

  5. Kate says

    I’ve just made this & wondered how many lavender flower heads you used? & were they dried flower heads or still in bloom ones? (It’s drying atm & am wondering if I’ve done it wrong & the smell won’t be strong enough!) :)

    • says

      Hi Jessica. Cloud dough needs a specific kind of dough (cornflour/cornstarch) but I wonder if you mean the play dough I refer to in this article. You could make play dough with wholewheat flour, although if the flour has more ‘grain’ in it, you will notice a slight difference in texture.

  6. says

    I’ve just made my lavender rice, it’s fab. One or two drops of lavender oil and the smell is just a hint. Perfect. I put it in sandwich bags after dyeing and put it in the freezer for ten minutes and it was dry and ready to go. Fab. Thanks for posting.

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