Tag Archives: Fine motor skill

Sensory Rice Tray…How To Use Colouful Rice With Toddlers


This green rice has been hanging around the kitchen for a week.  I was desperate to colour it up, but I have been unsure how best to use it with the little guy…so it has been sat in a box looking very green and sorry for itself!

Part of the problem I guess, was knowing the mess that would follow after just a few minutes of play, I couldn’t figure out a way that he would play with the rice, instead of just launching it skywards immediately.

Dry rice is brilliant at waking up the skin receptors on the hands, it is great for those who love tactile play as well as those who don’t (they can use spoons and tools), and you can scent it to calm down an energetic toddler (lavender) or to perk up a sleepy one (peppermint).  I really like the idea of using a scented rice as an introductory activity to get the brain in the zone for a task that might need a higher level of concentration.  Then there are also the fine motor skills that are always under development, grasping, reaching, manipulating with the hands and fingers in preparation for handwriting , self dressing and feeding.

So today I took the plunge.  I shook out a new shower curtain to cover the floor and I sat back as he played like a pro, for near 30 minutes.


Colouring rice can be as simple as adding food colouring to a box or bag of rice before shaking it up until everything is covered evenly.  Some ‘recipes’ call for hand sanitizer and microwaves, but I like to keep things as straightforward as possible…


Make your colourful rice…

Add rice to a bowl, bag or box.

Add a drizzle of food colouring (add more colour until you reach the desired vibrancy.)

Shake or stir until all of the rice is evenly coloured.

Spread on a tray and leave to dry out overnight.


Then it is time to make up your sensory tray…

I chose a deep tray, and kept the activity simple.  I placed a spoon and a bowl inside the tray, and added a bagful of pompoms for a totally different texture…and that was it.

He spooned the rice into the bowl, he grabbed handfuls of rice and sprinkled it about, he tried to bury the pompoms, he was totally engrossed…for 25 minutes…


…and then he did this!


…but I think half an hour of enjoyment was worth a bit of spilled rice!!!

You can take the dry rice to so many different levels for different ages.  You can use it for mark making, or for themed sensory trays like this Christmas one, or imaginative play like this farm themed idea, just by changing around the objects  and toys that you place in the tray.


Stacking And Scooping, Bringing Montessori Into The Home.


When the time came to start thinking about nursery and pre-school for my little guy, it didn’t take much research to find that the Montessori approach really resonated me.  When the guy was tiny, we often remarked on his concentration on the smallest of things, like nothing else existed around him just that one object…

Then I found this quote:

“A child’s different inner sensibilities enable him to choose from his complex environment what is suitable and necessary for his growth. They make the child sensitive to some things, but leave him indifferent to others. When a particular sensitiveness is aroused in a child, it is like a light that shines on some objects but not others, making of them his whole world.
The Secret of Childhood p. 42, Chap 7

Montessori concentrates on these sensitive periods, using them as a guide to focus on a particular area of learning that each individual child is receptive too.

I LoVe that idea, so for pre-scool at least, Montessori is my first choice.

It will be a little while before he starts attending official sessions at nursery, but in anticipation of that time, I am trying to start to bring some Montessori play into our home.  I am slowly filtering in some new activities and clearing some shelves to have these activities within easy reach.

Starting in the playroom seems obvious, but hopefully we will roll out activities into different areas of the house like the kitchen and bathroom.

The activities are so simple, but teach so much.  I never thought this simple spooning activity would occupy him for so long, but, he was riveted for a good five minutes, the concentration was incredible!!


It teaches coordination and concentration, spooning into a bowl without spilling the grain.  I chose some dried black beans so they would contrast with the cream carpet and he could see them clearly to pick up when he missed the bowl.

Of course it was always going to end like this!!


Every little person probably has some stacking toys at home, so instead of throwing each hoop onto the hard floor to make a noise, I made the effort to show him how to stack them properly.  In a nice clear and clean space, he actually started stacking, not throwing!

It seems too simple, but it is a great way to develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and a sense of order, something which Montessori understands to be a trait of all children to be developed.

20131027-144040.jpg 20131027-144053.jpgI will add to the collection of activities as I gather materials and ideas, so come back and have a look soon.  Meanwhile, why not try out some homemade paint!

Have fun, and feel free to comment and share more ideas with me.