One of the best DIY tactile learning “experiments” I did with Spawn #1 was coloured rice.  It was easy.  It was fast(ish).  It was fun.  It was clean(ish).  It has provided countless minutes of entertainment (ok, I probably could count the minutes.  Probably less than 120 in total.  But anything that can occupy a toddler for between 90 and 119 minutes over the span of several months, is still pretty awesome!).


You know what’s not awesome?  Stepping on coloured grains of rice.  For weeks.

I know what you’re thinking “Weeks?! Doesn’t this woman sweep???”  Um. Yes, I do, thankyouverymuch.  Ok, I could probably sweep more often, but this isn’t about my domestic goddess-ness (or lack of it), this is about how painful it is to step on a freaking grain of rice every five seconds!

When I first did made the rice, BKR (Before Kitchen Reno), I insisted that the rice could only be played with on the kitchen floor after the “messy mat” (a.k.a. Dollar Store plastic tablecloth) was laid down first. This allowed me to easily funnel it back into the container or gather it up and chuck it in the backyard for the raccoons to choke on. (If anyone knows where I can get a 1,200 sq ft ‘messy mat’, please email me!)

I would stand over him and tell him he needed to keep the rice on the cookie sheet or in the tupperware container and frantically tried to scoop up all the errant grains before it got out of hand. Yeah, right. What was I thinking?!  I gave the kid a scoop and a funnel and expected him to contain his ‘sensory play’.


Now that the kitchen is done(ish), and I’m worn down from having Spawn #2 (a.k.a. The Screecher Creature) around, I just pull out the tub of rice, throw it on the table and say “Have at it, kid!” Amazingly, now that Spawn #1 is almost a year older and wiser and calmer(ish), the mess isn’t too bad!  I even showed him how to use his hand to sweep the grains back into the container and…he actually…did it!  {Proud tears roll down Pinferior Mama’s face…}

Note: There are tons of versions of this recipe, some of which include using rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. (Um, hello, have you met a child under the age of 2? That rice is going straight into their pie hole and I’d rather my kids don’t ingest hand sanitizer, thanks.) I used vinegar instead.

I’m always on the prowl for fun (and easy/cheap) activities like this — please share yours!


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