When you need to occupy a toddler quickly, it’s useful to have something on hand that’s both visually stimulating and makes noise, a double-dose of sensory play. This one ticks both boxes!
The toy is simple as can be: an empty plastic bottle filled with colored pasta and rice. To color the rice and pasta, fill a cup with 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol. Add the food coloring of your choice, then add the rice or pasta. Let soak, then transfer to wax paper to dry.
This method worked great on the rice, but not so much on the pasta, probably because I used a dark, whole-wheat variety. So I do recommend standard white pasta (and rice) for this project.
Once dry, add the pasta and rice to a clear, empty water bottle. Use hot glue to secure the cap.
Then just store the bottle in a cabinet and hand it over as soon as your toddler needs an activity! Veronika had seen the pink rice as I was pouring it into the bottle (a funnel makes this step much easier), and so she was eager to get her hands on the bottle and investigate. As I hoped, she loved the sound this made. It was like a giant maraca.
And then there was the visual stimulation, as she watched all the colored bits shake around inside.
Needless to say, this easy toy is a winner.