At 19 months and 5 1/2 years both my girls enjoy playing with uncooked rice. Uncooked rice is a wonderful medium for sensory play as;
- It feels so interesting as you run it through your fingers or scoop it with your hands,
- It makes wonderful sounds as it is scooped and poured,
- It is safe to taste – though obviously this is not something I encourage. I stay with my toddler and supervise her play carefully for this reason,
- It is easy to clean up – I have some tips for this so be sure to read on,
- It can be readily stored and re-used again and again, and a little goes a long way,
- It is simple to add additional sensory elements to the rice to extend exploratory and learning potential of the sensory play.
The herb Rosemary grows readily in our garden (and in fact, all around our local area) and we all enjoying picking leaves from our bushes to smell that fabulous, fresh rosemary smell, so I decided it would be wonderfully sensory to add some fresh Rosemary to a small tub of rice for use in our rice play.
First AJ and I added some colour to our rice. I placed small amounts of rice into a transparent, plastic container and added a few drops of food colouring (in this case, red and blue to make a purple reminiscent of the flowers we see on our Rosemary plants). Then AJ and I took turns shaking the container to distribute the colour and achieved a lovely variegated effect. As we were only using a little colouring the rice stayed quite dry and could be used right away.
I picked some Rosemary from our garden and removed the leaves from the stems. Then I mixed the Rosemary through our coloured rice. If you don’t grow fresh Rosemary, dried Rosemary would work just as well.
I poured the Rosemary rice into a clear, plastic tub with low sides and added a large spoon, a collection of small cups, a small bottle and a small jug. Then I placed the tub into our plastic, sandpit shell to help contain the mess. A plastic paddle pool works just as well (as I shared when Immy was about the same age AJ is now!)
AJ jumped straight in and had a wonderful time scooping,
I loved watching her concentration as she worked hard to fill the various containers with the spoon,
and to pour from the jug back into the containers.
She also liked running the rice through her fingers and scooping it with her hands to fill the jug.
There were invariably spills into the plastic sandpit shell but it was easy to tip the shell to one side and pour the spilt rice back into our container once the play session had finished. We also ended up with some rice on the floor after some enthusiastic exploration involving hands being enthusiastically flung around but the shell caught most of it and what did spill over was quickly swept up.
The Rosemary rice looked, felt, smelt and sounded wonderful, providing a rich, sensory play experience. The importance of sensory play to brain development in young children is something I have explored further in the latest issue of Play Grow Learn: Big Adventures for Pint-Sized Explorers. The eZine also includes plenty of sensory play activity suggestions for children up to 8 years of age (my all-time favourite is the Rainbow Room!). Head on over to find out more here.
What types of sensory play do your children enjoy?