Last week, I was cleaning out my classroom closet and found an activity that I haven’t used in years… It was my I Spy Scientific Notation and Law of Exponent colored rice bottles. My students LOVED playing with these! On the other hand, didn’t like the noise they made when 30 some odd kids were shaking them in the classroom! But then, I started thinking about how much fun my students had and the bad memories of shake shake rice started to dissipate… I want to see my students having fun so I’m just going to have to deal with the noise!

Materials for Making Colored Rice

Making the colored rice is super easy and it can be done over the weekend. (Colored rice is SO much more fun than plain old white rice 😉 ) First, you will need to buy the following supplies:

  • Rice (not instant!)
  • Ziploc bags
  • Food Coloring
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Bottled water minus the water


Directions for Making Colored Rice

  1. Pour 1 cup of uncooked rice into a Ziploc bag.

  1. Add 1-2 tablespoons of food coloring and 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to the rice.

  1. Close the bag and shake, shake shake! (The shaking can be done by kids!)


  1. Pour the rice into a baking pan. Spread the rice as thin as possible. (Food coloring does not come out of clothing very well. I don’t recommend kids doing this part.)

  1. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the lowest setting. Occasionally, remove the rice and stir. Continue this process until the rice is completely dry.
  2. Next, I put my dried rice into plastic bowls. (I had to drink a lot of water before I could start filling the bottles but if you already have your bottles you can put it directly into them. The bottles had to be completely dry.)

     Colored Rice Bottles

Making I Spy Bottles

  1. Fill each water bottle with rice leaving about 1 to 2 inches of space at the top of the bottle.

Colored Rice Bottles     

  1. Create your math problems and bottle labels for each bottle. You can use math problems, vocabulary words, riddles, etc. just about anything! I’ve added a list of ideas to the bottom of this post.


  1. Hot glue the labels to your bottles. I covered my labels with clear contact paper… I do not recommend using contact paper. If I had it to do over, I would simply use clear tape to protect the labels.


  1. Next, I prepared my math problems. I printed the problems and covered them with clear contact paper. I would have laminated them but I didn’t have a laminator at the house.


  1. Cut the problems so they are on individual slips and put them into the bottles.
  2. Hot glue the tops onto the bottles so that the rice can’t spill out but be careful because the tops will melt if the glue is too hot.

I wish I had taken some pictures of the students solving problems but I didn’t 🙁 They had SO much fun!

Ideas for Using I Spy Colored Rice Bottles

  • Vocabulary
    • Learning Definitions – Students shake the bottle then find a vocabulary word that is showing. Students give the definition for the vocabulary word.
    • Word Bank – The shaker could be used as a word bank for a puzzle.
    • Exit Ticket – Have the students give the definition for a word before they leave for their next class.
  • Memorizing Math Facts

    • Make shaker bottles with simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Random Number Generator

    • Use the bottles to determine numbers when creating math problems during class.
  • Random Name Generator
    • Make I Spy Colored Rice Bottles instead of equity sticks. Put a student in charge of shaking the bottle to determine who will answer a question/problem in class.
  • Early Bird Riddles

    • Give early finishers a bottle with riddles to keep them busy while other students finish their work.
  • Review Questions

    • Keep your students in the know with review bottles. Students can use these at the end of class to review previously taught topics.
  • Matching Games
    • Put fractions, decimals and percents in the bottles. On a worksheet have matching pairs for each of the numbers in the bottle. Students will find the answers when they shake the bottles. (Can also be used with ratios and proportions.)

 Here are the labels and problems I used for my I Spy Colored Rice Bottles: