It rains a lot in Washington. It’s not the torrential downpours of the southeast where the heavens seem to open from above, gutters overflow in seconds and you are literally soaked to the bone walking from sidewalk to doorstep. That kind of rain makes you begin to fully understand just what a “flash flood” refers to. In Washington it drizzles. There is a moist drip-drop-plop over an extended period of time. Think hours, days, maybe even weeks. The ground never dries out. The moss becomes thick and heavy. And, there is a moldy dampness that lingers from fall through winter and into spring. But, golly the summers are splendid. We wait all year for those days.
Rain makes for stir crazy children. Stir crazy children make for cross-eyed parents. So, we get creative.
Here is my first awesome rainy-day activity. With some initial planning, it can be a seasonal activity that carries you right through the entire rainy season.
Rainbow Rice in the Sand Table
What you’re gonna need…
- 1 humongous bag of rice from anywhere that sells cheap rice – I chose the 50 lb bag of white rice from Costco for $12
- Food coloring – Yes, I’m talking artificial food coloring, but it’s not going into food, so don’t you eco-mamas worry. Please don’t go with the four-pack of small bottles you get from the grocery store. They are a ridiculous rip-off. Head to your local Cash & Carry/United Grocers or other restaurant supply-like store and buy the food coloring in bulk. You can get a single 24-ounce bottle for less than that four-pack.
- Rubbing Alcohol
In a gallon ziploc bag mix together four to five cups of rice. Add 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol. Add a generous amount of food coloring (I’d say about a tablespoon or a healthy squirt from your three-year-old).
Seal up the bag. Stick the sealed up bag into a second ziploc bag – just to be safe.
Mix. Smoosh. Knead. Get all that coloring distributed.
- Side note: this was an awesome project leading up to the amazing final product. Beckett was able to help with the measuring and mixing. And, we worked on her primary colors. She was fascinated watching the rainbow come to life with just red, yellow and blue. Plus, the tactile experience of playing with rice is so much fun – even for adults.
Pour the damp, colored rice into a shallow pan of any kind. Note the variety we were using.
Allow the rice to dry fully in a well-ventilated area. Or, if it’s sunny – not raining out – it’s best dried outside.
Fill up the hibernating sand table with the rice.
- The sand table is just an idea. We had it and it was just storing away for winter, so we used it and set it up in the garage. You could use a big plastic storage container. An empty sandbox. Really anything that lets kids dig with their hands and spread out for fun.
Mix. Smoosh. Play. Enjoy. For Beckett, sweeping what ends up on the floor is as much fun as the rice table.
And, make sure you leave a note to any future homeowners with your sincerest apologies for the forever lingering traces of rice that many generations will find.