Kid Science: Dancing Rice

This post originally appeared on Muddy Little Toes where I was previously a co-contributor.
How are you surviving the winter?  After snowing all day yesterday and racking up another 10 inches of snow, I am so ready for spring to come.  Only 47 days left!  (But who’s counting?)  You might remember a fun activity I shared a couple of months ago called Color Explosions involving baking soda and vinegar. (If not, you should totally check it out because it’s so much fun!)  I thought I’d throw another baking soda and vinegar experiment out there for you and your kids to try out!  This activity takes basically no prep time at all and uses ingredients you already have at home: water, rice, vinegar, baking soda and food coloring.

First, grab a clear container, such as a glass, and fill it with water so there is about an inch or so of space left at the top.  Add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda and stir it around.

Sprinkle some rice into the water.  (I’ve found that minute/instant rice works well since it’s not as dense.)

Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water.  After a short period of time, you should start seeing the rice “dance” up to the top and then sink back down.  This is due to the carbon dioxide bubbles sticking to the rice and the gas being released once it reaches the top.

You can also add a drop or two of food coloring into the glass for another aspect of visual fun.

Once the rice stops dancing, try adding a little more baking soda and vinegar to the water to see if you can get the reaction going again.


  • The larger the container is that you use, the more baking soda and vinegar you’ll have to use to get the reaction going.  So if you find that nothing is happening, try adding a little more of each.
  • Try using different items and see if you can get them to “dance”, such as small pieces of spaghetti or raisins.
  • For older kids, it would be fun to turn it into a real “experiment” by teaching them about why the rice “dances”, having them make notes about how much baking soda/vinegar it takes to get different items to dance, trying different kinds of rice to see if they “dance” differently, etc.
  • Let your kids do as much of the activity as possible.  They will love being the ones to create the reaction!

I hope you have fun with this activity!  (Maybe it will help you from going crazy while your stuck inside this winter like we are.)

What baking soda and vinegar activities have you tried?