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Fine Motor Skills: Rainbow Rice in a Jar

Today’s activity is perfect for working on those fine motor skills as kids build their own rainbow in a jar!

It’s both a skill development exercise and a fun way to craft and decorate for Spring.

We wanted to go colorful and hope to bring the luck of the Irish to you as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and rainbows.


Creating a Rainbow – Fine Motor Skills for Kids

Kids can always benefit from activities that focus on fine motor development.  Younger kids need to develop their finger muscles for writing, eating and other tasks that require hand coordination. 

And even older kids benefit from activities that help them practice hand/eye coordination. No matter how much they practice, my kids have always had to work hard with their handwriting (we think it’s hereditary in some ways because their writing looks very similar to my husband’s and his grandfather’s — neither is legible when they sign their names).


Rainbow Rice and Rock Salt - Rainbow craft activity that builds fine motor skills

We had some colorful (dyed) rice and rock salt from a previous watercolor art & science experiment so we created a rainbow in a jar! 

Here’s what you’ll need for this activity along with affiliate links to a few items we used:

  • Dyed rice and/or rock salt
  • Watercolor paints in a muffin tin or other small containers
  • A glass or plastic jar with lid (we used an old jelly jar)
  • A small spoon
  • Newspaper
  • Cottonballs (optional)

Dyed rice and rock salt is really easy to make — all you need is some dry rice, plain Rock Salt and Watercolor Paint in tubes.  We filled an old muffin tin with 2 teaspoons of watercolor paint for each color we wanted to make and then put the rice/rock salt on top and mixed it. 

Let the rice or rock salt soak in the paint colors for at least 3 hours (we left ours overnight and stirred it up a few times during the day) and it will create some beautiful colors!


The trick with this activity is to use a spoon and not a funnel — that’s what helps your child to engage their fine motor skills.

Have your kids use a teaspoon to scoop layers of colored rice, salt, sand or other material into a clean jelly jar. 

You might think it looks easy but you’ll be surprised at how many times they ‘miss’ 🙂  So be sure to put some newspaper under the area so it’s easy to clean up any spills.


Fine Motor Activities for Kids - Rainbow in a Jar craft

Even my 10 year old missed a few times — thus the purpose of the activity 🙂 

And you can see in the photos how she changes her hand position and how she’s holding the spoon as she worked her way through the activity.

As you are layering the colored material, be sure to shake the jar just a little so that each layer settles evenly before you add the next color.

If you are doing the activity with younger kids, have them practice their colors as they add each one. 

For older kids, have them SPELL the colors as each is added.

If you have kids who need to work on their fine motor development, try these items that help improve fine motor skills or this fun Build a Shape activity!


Create a Rainbow in a Jar while building fine motor skills with kids

We added white rock salt to the top as our ‘cloud layer’. 

You can also add cotton balls so that each of the colored layers won’t mix when you move the jar.


Related Activity:  35 Rainbow Sensory Activities 


So what do you do with a Rainbow in a Jar?

You can take your rainbow to storytime and read a book to it 😉 

Here are a few of our favorites with affiliate links so you can learn more about each one:



A Rainbow of My Own — written by the author of Courduroy — a young boy imagines what it would be like to have a rainbow of his own.  This is the PERFECT book for the rainbow in a jar activity!

Planting a Rainbow — readers will love the colorful garden that highlights all the colors of the rainbow.  A great Spring book!

Elmer and the Rainbow — When the rainbow loses it’s colors, Elmer thinks he should give his color to the rainbow … but that may mean he would lose them forever!


We are also playing a game — Find the Rainbow! 


Rainbow Art Shelf

 I’m moving the jar around the house each day and my daughter goes hunting for it’s location when she gets home from school — great work for those observation skills too 🙂

Sometimes I make it easy and others days, not so easy. 

Here’s where the jar is hiding is today — on our rainbow art shelf — now that should be a challenge to find 🙂


Looking for more Rainbow Activities?  Try these!


Rainbow craft ideas - Garden Pots

Garden Art: Rainbow Pour Pots — these are perfect for kids from ages 2 to teens!

Creating a Rainbow: 35 Colorful Sensory Activities

20 Rainbow Crafts for Kids

Rainbow Crafts & St. Patrick’s Day Activities

We’d love to see how you create rainbows and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!  Share some of your favorite posts with us (old or new) and you may be featured next week.


 Visit our Co-hosts for more fun activities too!

Fantastic Fun & Learning   **  Buddy & Buddy 




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