Archive of ‘Play Recipes’ category

Rose Scented Rice Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I know! Life got in the way of creating fabulous blog posts. Lucky for you guys, I made a massive list of posts I wanted to create in my absence, so I have plenty of material waiting to be created. Hopefully there won’t be any more long breaks around here!

Things have changed, we’re in our new house, the new baby is here and we’ve adjusted to all of it! I’m excited to start sharing with you guys again! Since Valentine’s day is fast approaching, I thought I’d kick off blogging again with a great idea for the holiday. This activity had my first-grade niece asking me if I had any more cool creations while she was here the other day it was so much fun, while my 4-year-old nephew and Peanut were elbow deep in it.

Rose Scented Valentine's Day Sensory Bin

Supplies:
*2 bags of uncooked white rice
*Food coloring
*One gallon ziplock bags
*Vinegar
*Rose Absolute Essential Oil
*Various valentine’s day items, such as:
Rose Petals
Felt Roses
-Plastic heart shaped bracelets
-Anything you have around the house that relates to Valentine’s day or roses!

This activity does take some preparation, but it’s worth it in the end! The day before you want to introduce this sensory bin, prepare your rice. It’s simple to do, you just need some time for it to dry or your little ones will end up with fingers dyed the color of your rice.

How to:

1. Select your food coloring. I used one food dye to get the dark pink and light pink in this sensory bin, I just used a different method of dying for both.

2. Dye our rice using one of two methods:

Dying method #1:

Dry Rice Dying Method
Step 1: Add 10-12 drops of food coloring to an empty one gallon ziplock bag.
Step 2: Add one bag of uncooked rice to the ziplock bag.
Step 3: Add 10-20 drops of essential oil and drizzle a bit more food coloring to the top of your rice.
Step 4: Seal the bag and shake until your food coloring & the EO is mixed in and the rice is dyed.
Step 5: Lay the rice out on a cookie sheet or some parchment paper. Spread it out to a thin layer and dry over night.

Dying method #2: To create the lighter color, dye your rice using vinegar.

Vinegar rice dying methodStep 1: Add about a cup of vinegar to an empty one gallon ziplock bag.
Step 2: Add 10-20 drops of food coloring to the vinegar along with 10-20 drops of essential oil. Mix the vinegar until the food coloring is evenly distributed.
Step 3: Add one bag of rice to the ziplock bag. Seal and shake.
Step 4: When the color is evenly distributed, use a fine mesh strainer and drain the rice over the sink. Let sit for 10-15 minutes so the excess vinegar can drain off.
Step 5: When the vinegar is drained, spread on a cookie sheet or parchment paper in a thin layer and dry over night. Mix rice up from time to time, if possible, to ensure it drys evenly.

3. When your rice is good and dry, add it to a shallow, long tub. Add your Valentine’s goodies, and let your littles have at it!

Rose Scented Valentine's Sensory Bin

4. Tip: Place your tub on a table cloth so the rice stays a bit more contained. When your kiddos are done playing, gather the rice in the middle of the table cloth and put it back in the sensory bin!

5. When you’re done, the rice can be saved and used again as often as you feel comfortable!

What was said while we played:
Peanut’s vocabulary has exploded since the last time I posted! We talk about all kinds of stuff and she give me all kinds of great responses! When she dove into this activity she kept telling me, “Me having very fun, Mommy!”

I asked her, “What color is the rice?”, “How does it smell?”, “What are you doing with the rice?”, “What else can you do with it?” I also let her ask me questions about what she was playing with. She did ask me what it was when she first started playing. She spent a lot of time repeating the color back while she was playing and also picking up the small roses and telling me what they were, once I had identified them for her.

Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

There’s just something relaxing about playing with rice. I used to catch myself playing in our rice bins while teaching preschool, just because I enjoyed it. Adding lavender essential oil to your died rice creates an even more relaxing sensory activity.

Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

Supplies:

  • 2-3 standard sized bags of white rice
  • 2.5 gallon Ziploc bag
  • Purple food coloring
  • 20-30 drops of lavender essential oil
  • Sea shells
  • A small, cloth bag
  • Bin for playing in

The night before you want to do this activity, die and scent your rice. It’s very simple: put all of the rice in a large Ziploc bag, add a generous amount of food coloring, zip the bag, and shake up the rice to distribute the food coloring. If you didn’t reach the desired color you wanted, add more food coloring and mix again. When your rice is the desired color, add 20-30 drops of lavender essential oil and mix the rice again. When everything was mixed in, I opened the Ziploc bag and let it dry over night. The next morning, I dumped the rice into our sensory bin and added the sea shells and cloth bag.

Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

I presented the bin to Peanut on our laminate floors, incase some of the rice found it’s way out of the bin (which it did). At first she poked around at the rice for a while. Then, I showed her she could burry the shells in the rice and she began copying what I was doing. Eventually I showed her how she could take a hand full of rice and fill the bag or scoop up some rice with the shells to fill the bag.

Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

We squished the bag when it was full of rice, smelled the rice in the bin and bag. We talked about what color the rice was. After a little while, I just let Peanut play and relax with the scent and feel of the rice. She played quietly for quite a while, only becoming disturbed when she accidentally discovered the fun sound the rice made when it hit the laminate floor. Then I decided play time was up.

What we talked about: 
“Does that feel soft?”
“There are lots of little pieces, aren’t there?”
“It sounds nice when you mix it.”
“That smells delicious.”
“The bag is squishy.”
“That’s a shell. Can you find the one I buried?”

This is a great sensory bin to keep around for a late-night play experience. The lavender essential oil can calm a crabby kiddo down no time and get them ready for peaceful sleep. Keep your Ziploc bag you mixed your rice in to store the rice when not in use. Dyed rice is definitely not a one-time-only use sensory bin filler. Use it again and again!

All Natural Scented Homemade Play Dough

allnaturalscentedplaydough

I have a confession. I’ve never let Peanut play with play dough before this. I was always afraid she’d eat it…well, I was right, so I was glad I remembered this recipe for DIY play dough from my preschool teaching days. It took me a while to get around to making it wondering if most of it would get ingested or if Peanut would actually play with it. But, I finally did it!

Supplies:

1.5 cups boiling water
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
a few drops lemon oil
2 tablespoons oil, extra if dough is crumbly
20-30 drops lemon essential oil or essential oil of your choice
A big bowl
metal spoon
play dough toys or old kitchen utensils, safe for toddlers of course!

IMG_0077

Start by boiling your water. Mix flour, salt, oil, and essential oil in a large mixing bowl with the metal spoon. When the water is boiling, add it to the mixture and mix with the spoon until the dough is cool enough to knead. Knead with your hands until it becomes smooth, soft, and pliable. Add a splash of oil or water if the dough seems crumbly. Knead that in for a while before adding more, if needed. You can also add more essential oil if the fragrance is not strong enough for your taste.

All Natural Homemade Play Dough

Then, set dough on the counter in a large ball for 2-3 minutes to cool a big longer. Set up your play place and play dough toys during this time. When the dough is cool enough for your toddler to play with, let them have at it.

All Natural Scented Homemade Play dough

Peanut particularly liked sticking things in the dough. I had to really prompt her to squeeze or squish the dough, but she stuck just about every toy in front of her into the dough all by herself. We talked about squishy, squeeze, sticky and how it was something to play with not to eat. :) I also encouraged her to smell it, carefully, since she sticks things she’s smelling very close to her nose.

All Natural Scented Homemade Play dough

When play time is over, store the play dough in a plastic bag. When you go to play the next time, if it’s a bit dry, wet down your hands and knead the dough for a couple of minutes and it should come back to life. You’ll know when the dough has reached the end of its life when it is very crumbly and can’t be revived with a bit of water.

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