I'm very lucky to be able to work from home, so I get to spend my days with my toddler. Working in Early Years, I'm not one for sitting around and letting him just 'play' all day, I'm constantly planning new activities and play opportunities for him.
I often hear people say 'wow, you're brave' or 'that's far too messy for me!' when I tell them what we've been up to, but after working in Early Years for 16 years; the messier the better, I say! And what's a bit of mess when you're creating memories and building on skills?
This week we've been making coloured rice. It's really simple and you can use things you probably have in the cupboards at home.
Want to know how? Keep reading...
What You Need:
[just a cheap pack of rice from the supermarket will do]
Different coloured food colouring
[you can also add flavourings for different scents too]
Food Bags / Zip Lock Bags
[people often use vinegar but I find a splash of water works just as well]
Firstly, separate your rice into food bags, any food bags will do, although if you'll be letting children help, the zip lock bags will be your best option, so there's no spillages.
I usually do this the evening before we plan to play with it, to give it chance to dry out.
Add a couple of drops of food colouring, be very careful not to over do it, I've had to throw batches away before now as I'd added far too much colouring and the rice was too wet and sticky. It can take a little practice to get the balance between food colouring and water right, but if you start off with little amounts with a few drops of water and mix into the rice you'll find that only a small amount is needed. It's better to be able to add a couple more drops if needed rather than add too much and have to throw it away and start again.
The water is to water down the food colouring, making it go a little further and help bind to the rice. As I mentioned, a lot of people use white vinegar but I don't keep this in the house and find that water has always worked just as well.
Holding the bag at the top, mix the colouring into the rice by manipulating the bag with your fingers until all the rice is covered. Then when you've coloured all the rice, lay the bags flat and leave to rest to give the rice chance to 'dye'. I usually leave it for a couple of hours, every now and then giving them a bit of a shake and turning the bags over.
After a couple of hours, usually before I go to bed, I empty the rice out onto kitchen towel to dry out overnight.
In the morning, the rice should be completely dry, not at all wet or sticky and the kitchen paper should be clean, with no colouring on the tissue. If it isn't, it's not suitable for playing with.
I set up the rice on our play mat on the floor, [an old shower curtain is perfect] although I'm definitely investing in a tuft spot ASAP to keep play like this from spreading the full vicinity of my kitchen floor ;) along with some silver kitchen utensils; pots, pans, cake tins, different sized spoons, cups etc for mixing.
You could set it out in lots of different ways;
in a tray at standing height,
on the floor,
on a table top,
with small world toys [cars, animals, people],
with cups, scoops and funnels [for scooping and pouring],
with coloured items to match the rice,
for mark making with fingers or other tools