Sensory Play with Rice & Lentils

Rice and lentils

Of all the mediums for sensory play, rice, lentils, pasta and whatever other dried pulses you happen to have lurking about at the bottom of your cupboard happens to be my favourite. Now that the panic buying is easing, these items are more easily found in the supermarkets again and are still relatively inexpensive to buy. This makes the fact of using them for play rather than for food a less daunting prospect! The possibilities for scooping, digging, pouring, moulding, filling, sprinkling, mark making and pattern making are endless.

Not only does it create a great base for a play tray full of interesting textures, colours and sound (when sprinkled) but it holds things in place well. Providing exciting play opportunities when other items such as toys, mini diggers , scoops and spoons etc are added.

Why not add other items.

I love to add items such as little jugs, spoons , cups and plastic teapots as the children love exploring the effect of filling things up and pouring them out. The motions of scooping and pouring are great for fine motor skills. The cause and effect of tipping the teapot or pouring the jug is great for cognitive development and experimentation. Endless autonomous learning opportunities here!

Children also love to have mini diggers and stones mixed in with the rice so they can engage in imaginative “builder” play. Another great thing to do is pop in some scoops, small plastic pots and some bunches of plastic flowers. Let them “plant” the flowers in the pots using the rice as soil. They get great satisfaction from this as the rice holds the flowers in the pot really well and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Endless hours are spent creating a flower shop, potting and re-potting the colourful flowers!

Coconut shells, rocks and stones , sticks and natural materials all work great in here. Have a go at making little stone paths to the coconut houses or small circle cuts of wood to make a stepping stone path for fairies, dinosaurs or Lego people to negotiate. Use sticks to draw patterns, shapes and numbers. If your child is just starting out with mark making, get them to do squiggles and patterns.

The sensory feel and sound of the rice is fantastic. Trickle it over hands, pour it through cardboard tubes from toilet rolls or kitchen rolls, sprinkle it over plastic toys or back on to itself to hear the sound it makes. Does the sound change if you drop it quickly or slowly? How about if you tip it through a long tube and then a short one?

Have fun with it. Enjoy it. Experiment….and remember to let your child have a go… after all it’s sensory play for them, right?.😉

Elizabeth Taylor, Education Director

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