I have been using rainbow rice to create innumerable learning opportunities.
When my daughter was barely 2 years old, I used the rainbow rice for sensory play with cups, spoons, funnels etc. This would keep my daughter engaged for a long period of time.
I would closely supervise to ensure nothing was going into her mouth. I had also trained her to never put this in her mouth and also to contain the mess within her mat.
Later I started using the rainbow rice to introduce letters, to teach colors and shapes, in art and craft activities (see here an idea to use rainbow rice with an art project), in pretend play (when the rice is the food for her guests), in developing fine motor skills such as pouring, spooning, transferring, in developing practical life skills such as pounding rice, etc.
I would like to share in detail how I used it to teach her letters.
Learning letters with a rainbow rice sensory bin:
I collected 26 pebbles from the garden and wrote capital and small letters (capital on one side and small on the other) on each.
I put these letter pebbles in a basket.
I had bought two sets of wooden alphabet (upper and lowercase) puzzles (here’s an affiliate link to a wooden puzzle with both upper and lowercase letters) and was trying to figure out the most creative way to present it to her. That’s when I thought of using it with the rainbow rice.
The rainbow rice, in our house, always has a designated bin.
I put all the wooden letters (both big and small) in the rainbow rice bin.
I laid out the mat, opened the bin, put the two alphabet puzzle boards in front of her.
She had to pick a pebble from the basket, find the corresponding letters in the rainbow rice and fit it in the boards. I never pushed her to do more than 5-6 letters in one sitting and we did this activity whenever she showed an interest.
I did not want any negative association with learning letters of the alphabet.
This strategy worked and she would want to sit with the bin almost everyday, and later independently. It was a success to say the least.