Sensory Processing: Playing With Rice

I finally got a bin, put rice in it, and added a few toys.  The boys love it!  An old red bedspread tossed on the floor works well to define the space for play and catch the rice that inevitably spills out.  The bin is large enough for two boys to play at a time.  They dig in it, pour the rice into cups, and shove it around with their hands.   I had to make rules such as, “Only hands in the bin,” when they squeezed into it and sat down; the rice got in their clothes and made a big mess.

I decided to start with plain, white rice and then add things over time to keep the bin interesting.  Different sizes and colors of beans are part of my plan, as are a variety of small toys.  One reader mentioned that she buries plastic army men in the rice for her son to find – Eby would love that.

[note: if you have a child who puts everything in their mouth, be sure not to put small choking hazards in the bin, including dry beans.]

All in all, this is a simple sensory tool to put together and it meets some of Eby’s sensory needs. The kids are having a great time.

Many of you are much further down this road than I am, so please feel free to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

We are in Seattle for therapy appointments today, but I’ll be home tomorrow and will post your responses to last week’s Tuesday Topic, Church (and Other Social Situations) With Newly Adopted Children.  It’s not too late to add your comments and I would love to hear from you!

~Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

17 Comments

  1. paige
    March 22, 2010

    We placed our bin in a play tent from IKEA–it helped to keep the beans and rice in a confined space and Elliott loved the quiet confined space too.

    Once Elliott was comfortable with the bean box, we added less desirable textures to the bin–pieces of sponge, those little water tubes, etc. All things that challenged him but were approachable within the mighty bean box.

    Reply
    1. OneThankfulmom
      March 23, 2010

      Paige, I made it to IKEA this weekend and got some more great sensory things – I'll write about them soon!

      Reply
  2. Donna
    March 22, 2010

    We do this on the wood floor and when they are done they can use a small hand broom and dust pan to clean up. It is great hand eye work and motor planning work and so far they think it is fun!!!!

    Reply
    1. OneThankfulmom
      March 23, 2010

      Donna, good idea! The boys play with ours over carpet, so they vacuum when they're done. I'm looking forward to putting it on the front porch now that the weather is getting better.

      Reply
  3. Amy AJ
    March 23, 2010

    Love the photos! You can color the rice by putting it in a baggie with a few drops of food coloring, closing it up and shaking it. The kids will love choosing colors and shaking the bags (though you may want to do it outside – sometimes overzealous shakers break bags…)

    Reply
    1. OneThankfulmom
      March 23, 2010

      Great idea!

      Reply
  4. MaryF
    March 23, 2010

    I do the rice box and it is a favorite around here. My 3-year old has turned into a great helper after he and sister are done and vacuums up the rice that always makes it out of the box. It's some of his "work." :). I love the idea of beans and burying army men. Both of my kids are bio and we start classes to become certified foster parents tomorrow night. This was a huge encouragement to me tonight–foster care and wounded children compel me but I am also afraid. The reminder that small things like a rice box nourishes a child is encouraging to me tonight as I sit at this threshold! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. OneThankfulmom
      March 23, 2010

      Mary, blessings on your journey to being foster parents. What a wonderful ministry!

      Reply
  5. Sweet Pea
    March 23, 2010

    Eby, Little Man and Sunshine played with it this morning, and a great time. Afterwards, during clean up, I turned around to see Eby with the vacuum hose sticking into the rice box! We managed to stop him before we lost too much rice.

    Reply
  6. Ellen
    March 23, 2010

    A precious friend with two Ethios of her own directed me here. My husband and I are also embarking on fostering parenting, though we have yet to schedule our classes. I was fascinated to see MaryF use the word *compel*. It's precisely how I describe my own circumstances.

    Thank you for all the time you pour into your blog. I'm comforted and encouraged by the support I find here!

    Reply
  7. DeeDee
    March 23, 2010

    Lisa,
    I used a sensory table like this when I taught preschool! Here is a list of things to switch in and out! The boys will love it!
    Sand, cornmeal, corn feed, bird seed, water and bubbly soap, soil, dried leaves, package peanuts,coffee beans, and regular beans. Add seashells, small toys like plastic bugs, funnels, cups, spoons, tongs (for removing small items), bowls, water wheels, and turkey basters.

    Reply
    1. OneThankfulmom
      March 23, 2010

      DeeDee, great ideas. Thank you!

      Reply
  8. Jolene
    March 24, 2010

    Thanks for this great idea. I went out and bought whole rice set up today! My little guys loves it!!!! He is very into high sensory activities. They are so calming for him. Some things he enjoys are playing in a big bowel with cornmeal and some cups and containers, washing the dishes and playing in the water and I also have a portable container of beans that he will play with for a hour. He hides his tiny cars in them and sorts the beans into different containers. Now this rice thing has him so entertained. I can see it meting so many of his needs, thanks for the great idea! Jolene

    Reply
    1. OneThankfulmom
      March 24, 2010

      Jolene, I'm so glad he likes it too! Eby loves to wash dishes and will spend a long time doing it. I like the idea of a portable container of beans – I may give that a try.

      Reply
  9. Kathrin
    March 28, 2010

    We played with rice yesterday and it was a lot of fun. My little one was able to stay focused for 20 minutes! Thank you for the idea.
    Have you tryed giant white beans (dried)? It's good too.
    You could although poor both in a inflatable baby pool and have the kids experience it with the whole body.

    Reply
  10. Taryn
    July 17, 2018

    We use this at my preschool too and the kids LOVE it. We switch out toys and filler based on our themes. A couple things I’ve found helpful or new are: using a bit of vinegar when making the colored rice, it helps the food coloring spread out and soak in to the rice easier. You can add essential oils like orange for calming or peppermint for invigorating depending on your little ones’ sensory needs. (It’s good to leave the rice out for awhile to let the vinegar smell dissipate some first) There’s a cool moon or cloud dough recipe that is made with flour and baby oil that is great for squishing and getting your hands into. There’s recipes on Pinterest. After we use toys with this we have the kids wash them in a wash bin with toothbrushes or scrub brushes. They love that too. Water beads are an amazing sensory experience. They stimulate the nerves in your hands and it’s a very cool feeling. Also depends on your kiddos’ sensory intake needs. Hope those are helpful!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 17, 2018

      Taryn, wow! Thanks for so many great suggestions. I love hearing from you!

      Reply

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