Tag Archives: Rice

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.


Arsenic In Your Rice…Arsenic In Your Baby Rice!

Long grain rice

Long grain rice. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

I was raised on rice, maybe more so than others because of my heritage.  My mum learned to cook from my Iranian grandmother, rice is a staple of Persian cuisine, so I would say I have had more than my fair share of rice.

So I was shocked to learn that eating rice once a day can increase arsenic levels in the body by up to 44%.

What’s going on then?

Arsenic can be found in the water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil we used to roll around in!  It is found naturally in the Earth’s crust, it is released from erupting volcanoes, and it is eroded from mineral deposits into our water supplies

But as humans we have added inorganic arsenic to our environment on a scale much more devastating.   Burning coal, oil, gas and wood, mining, and the use of arsenic in pesticides and fertilizers are a few of our crimes.

So arsenic is unavoidable, it is absorbed by plants and crops as they grow, but rice is so much more vulnerable to this because it is grown in water flooded fields.  Some genetically modified crops are even designed to make maximum use of nutrients in the soil and water are therefore absorbing even more inorganic arsenic that others.

Now I love rice, but from the minute I started researching baby led weaning, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would under no circumstance spoon feed my child any form of slop…especially not baby rice.   I figured it had no nutritional value whatsoever and I was determined not to damage his virgin gut for a full six months.  Boy am I pleased, now that I know at three servings a day of baby rice, I would have effectively been poisoning him without even realising.  As is the fad with baby rice, starting at four months old, such a tiny system handling such a hefty dose of arsenic, are you so eager to start weaning in this way any more?

Image courtesy of Forbes

So what can you do?

  • As with anything in life, moderation is the key and a varied diet is the best protection.  Try using other grains and get experimental…couscous, bulgar wheat, barley, quinoa, try them.
  • Consumer Reports recommends limiting your rice consumption to a quarter cup serving of plain rice twice a week for adults, but remember also to go easy on rice crackers, rice based drinks and cereals too.
  • The recommendation for children is a quarter cup serving of baby rice cereal a day, but given that the effects of arsenic are heightened, and given my aversion to feeding babies slop at four months, I think once a day is too much.  Try wheat, oatmeal, or corn to change things up.
  • Finally change your cooking method.  Rinse rice under running water, then cook it in excess water, six parts water to one part rice.  Either drain off the water and serve, or like my mum taught me, cook in excess water, then drain off the water and finish cooking by steaming with the lid on.

Baby Rice Pudding

Rice pudding

I was lurking in the yoghurt aisle of the supermarket, as you do, looking at the sugar content of baby yoghurts and desserts.  Revolting, sugar, water, preservatives and a little more sugar for good luck.  The only thing I found to meet my impossibly high specification was the Plum Organic fromage frais, sweetened only with natural fruit pulp.  That went in the shopping trolly, but while I was there I took note of some flavor combinations and pudding ideas to try and re-create at home.

The latest addition…£1 for two pots of Ellas rice pudding.  You what?!  Surely I could do that myself.  Now I haven’t made rice pudding for many years, since an attempt that even the birds refused to ingest…So here goes.

Makes approx 300ml of rice pudding (5 small portions for my guy)

50g pudding rice
500ml milk
1 thin strip of orange or lemon peel
dash of vanilla extract

Pop it all in a saucepan, bring to the boil, remove the peel and then simmer on low for 40ish minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.  Hey presto!

Leave to cool and divide up as you wish.  Mine went into some breast milk storage pots ready to freeze.  Use within a month and heat until piping hot throughout.

Was it worth the burnt milk on the hob and the impossible to clean saucepan.  As I stacked up the little pots I wondered how can one saucepan of rice pudding bring so much satisfaction, I am a bit of a geek like that.

I did ummm and ahhh over to freeze or not to freeze the rice.  Rice is notorious for breeding bacteria if not used within a reasonable time, but I use my own judgement and finish the pots on the day I defroste them, if any of it makes it to the freezer and I haven’t finished the lot!