Taste Safe Water Beads Are Such a Fun Sensory Play Material.
I remember seeing them for the first time on instagram and buying them instantly on amazon. I tried them with Q, he was 16 months and well past mouthing anything – thankfully. After more research on them I realized how dangerous they could be if ingested, which brings me here to a taste safe solution!
All you need are three ingredients to make these taste safe water beads!
Here’s the Recipe for Taste Safe Water Beads
Bring water to a boil, make sure there’s enough water in the pot to full submerge the tapioca pearls.
Once water is boiling, pour in tapioca pearls I used about half of a 5 lb bag.
Let them boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Strain in a sieve and rinse well under cold water.
Portion into however many bowls for the amount of colors you’d like. Drop in a few drops of gel food coloring.
Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes to absorb the color.
After 15 minutes rinse well again under cold water.
It’s the easy to make your taste safe water beads!
After that they’re ready to be played with. I recommend pouring water over them often to keep them from getting too sticky.
Some color will transfer off of them still despite the rinsing, so just be ready for a mess!
I set ours in a tray and Q’s imagination did the rest!
He pretended to make ice cream and the texture was seriously amazing to play with!
Summer is coming up and feeling inspired by my son Q who asks for beach play every day I set out to share our 15 favorite beach sensory play set ups! From play right on the beach, to play in the backyard, to play at our dining room table, you can bring a beach anywhere! This post includes affiliate links.
1. On The Beach Sensory Play
Kicking off our beach inspired play with…play on the beach!
Last summer we packed up and headed to the jersey shore to join Q’s cousins (5yo & 7yo) and have some fun in the sun. Naturally I wasn’t going to the beach without some fun play materials too! Here’s what I brought with us for a different play each day.
The kids were so excited to see what I’d set up each day.
Having the materials on hand led to me being able to quickly set out play for them to enjoy. This was all about providing materials and letting the kids imaginations do the rest.
I made these DIY wine cork stampers but hot gluing these embellishments to wine corks.
I dyed chickpeas, brought some dyed blue rice, and made some play dough to bring, recipe for all below!
Check out my post here all about playing at the beach!
2. White Sand Beach Sensory Play
This beach makes me dream about a private beach my husband and I went to in Costa Rica years ago. It was a beach on a little island right off the coast where the palm trees went right into the water, the water the most beautiful shade of blue, and the skyline was jungle.
I used moon dough for the sand, recipe below, this is about 1/2 the recipe amount. You can store in an airtight container in the fridge and reuse! The water is a little cornstarch and blue food coloring.
I set out our safari LTD boats ( use SCOTTCOTTAGE10 for 15% off their site), our chickadeeswoodentoys peg people ( use SCOTTCOTTAGE!) for 10% off their site) and some buckets and palm trees from a craft store. The shoreline is made bubbly with bubbling botanicals that my friend Birdie makes, check our her etsy shop!
Q had so much fun taking his peg people on a boat ride.
How cute are these mini buckets too? The towels are made from foam I cut out. Q’s interest is exploding into small world play lately and I’m absolutely loving it! You can change up this small world in so many ways, but a flour, oil, water, and food color is really all you need!
We took our white sand and turned it into a coral reef beach.
Here i just changed up the shade of the water, added more bubbling botanicals along the shoreline and added our coral reef toob from safari LTD along with seashells we’ve collected as a family over the years. This is an easy way to reuse and switch up a simple play set up into a new one! Any of our flour sand that gets wet I toss and I keep the rest to reuse.
3. Cereal Sand Beach Play
This became a daily request for Q. “brown beach with blue water mama please” – well easy enough. This TASTE SAFE beach is so easy to make by just grinding up cheerios or cornflakes, or crackers. The water is cornstarch with a little food coloring. Easy!
Like I said, I set out this play almost every day for Q.
He loves the texture of the sand and making “waves” in the water with more water. I set it out with little animals, or shells and he often brings over his own toys to include too!
I often pull from real life experiences for our play to share those moments and stories with Quinn. This is a beach inspired by Margaret River Australia that I sourced for a photoshoot for a job. It was magical being there and I loved sharing this story with Quinn.
I changed up the sand here to make it more impressionable for the tire marks, recipe below!
To make the ocean I mixed water with cornstarch and blue food coloring and used shaving cream along the water line!
This beach play was all about fine motor skills. It was a great way to introduce Q to using tongs he loved to explore the different textures.
I used a tray of sand and set different beach treasures in different sizes and textures. You can source the beach treasures yourself or snag some from dollar tree!
10. Pebble Beach Play
This was a really easy one to set out and a great way to practice learning letters through play. I set out various pebbles we found at the beach and some blue sand as the ocean and had Q find the different letters.
11. Tide Pool Beach Sensory Play
Here is another craft turned play. Q and I made these red crabs with paint and red sugar. Then I made a beach tide pool world with sand, rocks, and little water areas.
To make the water areas I used the lids of takeout containers to contain the water!
Lots of beach treasures scattered around and this was great fine motor work to “fish” for the crabs!
12. Gone Fishing Beach Sensory Play
Here is a great way to incorporate puzzles into play. I hid our puzzle into a blue rice ocean and play dough beach set up.
13. Pirate Beach Sensory Play
Another craft turned play!
Q and I made these cliffs from air dry clay and I painted this wooden birdhouse pirate ship to use in our play.
Our ocean is blue dyed rice. Using nature like below is a great way to practice counting through play.
14. Book Inspired Beach Sensory Play
One of Q’s favorite plays was about his favorite book, The Rainbow Fish. His favorite part was with the octopus and would make me reread it over and over again. I made the beach with sand, white beans, and blue dyed chickpeas.
The rainbow fish is made out of play dough!
15. Water Bead Beach Sensory Play
This was a last summer favorite. There is just something so magical about water beads – they are MESSY – but magical nonetheless! All you need are water beads and shells! For a taste safe option use tapioca pearls.
Small world play fuels the imagination. For both children, and parents. When I start to think about a world I want to create for Q I start by asking myself these questions, what inspires me, what brings me joy, and what can I share with Q? This post I dive deep into small world play, how to get started, why we do it, what are the benefits, and why you should give it a try! This post includes affiliate links.
Q has recently become very interested in animals and I’ve been running with that. He is currently 2 1/2 (and no I don’t know where the time went!) and I have been most excited about this shift of interest in play for Q where he’s interested in telling stories and animating the play with me.
Always supervise sensory play directly next to your little ones, especially under 3yo. Please use your best judgement with your own kids and avoid choking hazards while kids are still mouthing. I have a post all about taste safe fillers here, and will share taste safe tips throughout.
How To Get Started with Small World Play
Water. Yes- that simple. We started small world play with water worlds, Q was constantly asking for a beach which I started to make him of ground up cereal and water. It was taste safe and that easy. He would add his own toys into the play and we’d make up stories and he’d just play.
I highly recommend starting with one material trays, then move to two, and so on. Small World Play at its simplest is a sensory element and a prop. I started small world play with Q when he was 17 months old, and months past every trying to mouth anything. I would start with one tray of dried lentils and some small pots as a gardening tray. Here are some great starter tray Ideas:
Starter Small World Play Tray Ideas
Ground Cereal + Water with food coloring beach
Moon Sand + Water with food coloring beach
Corn flake construction site – add cornflake to a tray and add trucks
Lentil or Bean Garden – add lentils to a tray with scoops and small pots to “plant”
Water In a tray with seashells
Kinetic Sand in a tray with themed toys
Dyed rice in a tray with themed toys – set up a galaxy with dyed black rice and stars
I can’t tell you how much nature I used and still use in our small world play. You can look around your kitchen and take to the outdoors to find great materials for small world play. Here are some of my favorite resources I like to have on hand:
Recently Q’s expressive language has exploded, he’s 2.5. Small world play encourages language development and allows us to learn through the play. We talk about the various animals, their colors, the sounds they make, the habitats, and he adds them into the small worlds and feeds them and has his own stories for them. Which blends right into imaginative play. Together we create worlds for him to dive into and explore. When he was younger and would nap I would set up worlds while he slept for us to dive into together in the afternoons.
Having a small world play tray for Q out promotes independent play. While I’m sitting directly next to him or in the same room supervising I’m able to answer some emails and have some tea. These trays are as much a benefit to me as they are to him.
Small World Play Is As Much a Benefit to Me as it is to Him
Small Word Play gives me a moment to work, or a few moments at that. Finding moments to world while home with Q 24/7 through the pandemic that isn’t screen time has been challenging. It’s all about striking a balance and these trays give us just that!
It’s been most fun to see Q’s fine motor skills develop last summer he would “use” a tong by stabbing with it and this spring he uses it with purpose.
These trays provide endless ways to learn through play. I’m able to connect with Q through play, teach him about the world that I wish we could travel, talk to him about art. Often we create the resources for the trays together.
I reuse just about everything. Unless it’s that messy and it just gets completely destroyed! How I store things:
Play Dough – Ziplock containers and bags, lasts 6-12 months
Air Dry Clay – Air tight container, lasts 2-3 days
Dyed Pasta – Zip Lock Bags
Dyed Rice – Zip Lock Bags
Moon Dough – Zip Lock Bag
Pull Inspiration From The Real World, or Books!
They way we would play when Q was younger is I would tell him the stories through story stones and places that matched the books he loved.
Acting out stories are a great way to start out with sensory play.!
Small World Play Theme Ideas
Land, Sea, and Air
Ideas are Endless!
Small World Play has Endless Options
Remember to bring ideas to the table not expectations. Q only recently started exploding with imaginative play and “acting out” with his toys. I like to set the scene with Q’s help, toddlers love to be involved from the start!
Don’t forget that less is more for younger children, there will be plenty of time for more elaborate play opportunities as they get older. When Q was younger the play was more about just exploring the sensory base and enjoying me story telling.
Small world sensory play has been a daily exposure for Q for well over a year and we have so much fun with it, that’s right – WE.
I started this page to show parents they can have as much fun with sensory play as kids do and it provides as many benefits to us as it does to them. It’s a wonderful artistic outlet for us caregivers.
I’m rounding up our five favorite easter crafts we made this season, complete with recipes, tips and tricks. This post includes affiliate links.
We’ve had so much fun with Easter crafts these past few weeks.
I’ve decided to share with Q a variety of ways to paint and explore easter eggs. With Easter quickly approaching we spent this morning filling up our easter basket full of the easter eggs we’ve made the past few weeks. Sharing below the details on some of our favorites.
Tip about crafting with toddlers, bring ideas to the table, not expectations. It’s easy to imagine the outcome of a craft and see pictures like these and expect certain results. Often Q does half of crafts, or goes back and forth to crafts, and I often “finish” them with his direction. Q is 29 months old and that’s very typical for his attention span. I always bring ideas to the craft table, but never any expectations and it make the craft and experience SO much more fun.
Q had so much fun painting these. We drove to the beach and collected lots of large seashells – that’s the best part about the winter- there are a lot of large shells all over the place.
We came home and cleaned off the shells together- that’s an activity in itself!
Once they were all clean and dry we painted them and I added some finishing touches with paint pens. Then we had fun hiding and finding them around the house!
Tip: Seal them with mod podge so they’re weather proof and decorate your yard with them! You can also set them out along a walk for neighbors to discover.
Salt Dough Easter Eggs
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Cold Water
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. Then knead together for 10 minutes. Q absolutely loves salt dough.
How fun are these hand print easter eggs?! Q loves pressing his hands into the dough and then I cut out an egg shape around them. Once we’re done I bake them in the oven at 170F for 3 hours, flipping after 1.5 hours. Once they’re cool enough to touch we painted them with acrylic paint and I added some gold details to the hands! Q loves making these crafts. We’ve made them for fall, the holidays, valentines day, st. patricks day, and now easter.
Tip: Salt dough also makes for great garland pieces. Salt dough is more durable then the air dry clay below, so salt dough pieces are best for little hands.
Cut out some egg shapes from cardboard and hot glue on beans and pasta and invite your little ones to paint them! So easy and fun!
Tip: Glue on all the pasta and beans at night so you have a craft ready to go at any time!
Air Dry Clay Easter Eggs
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup baking soda
3/4 cups water
Add all ingredients to a non stick pan and cook over medium high heat stirring constantly until they reach the consistency of mashed potatoes and completely pull away from the pan.
Store directly in an air tight container to cool. Once cool enough to touch, knead really well. Make your shapes. I used these play dough tools to make fun imprints.
Then I baked them for 2 hours at 175F – depending on your oven you can go up to 200F, make sure to flip them a few times at least after 1 hour.
Once they’re out of the oven, paint them with acrylic paint. Check out the post here! Don’t forget to check out my blog post, 22 things to do with air dry clay.
Tip: Experiment air drying for 2 days and baking right after making to see which result is best for you. Baking helps prevent cracking in the clay. You can seal these with mod podge to make more durable.
I picked up shaving cream and white eggs and paired them with food coloring we had at home and this was SO much fun.
We did this with Q’s cousins who are 5 and 7 and all 3 of them loved this activity.
You fill up the cups of a muffin tin with shaving cream. Then have the kids add in food coloring and mix up with a tooth pick. Then add in your egg and gently fold into the shaving cream to completed cover them. Once covered let sit for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes has passed gently rinse under cold water. Enjoy how magical they came out!
Tip: Have wipes and paper towels on the table, this is a MESSY one!!
Sharing 14 fun and taste safe sensory play ideas with 9 recipe cards that are perfect for babies and toddlers who are still mouthing. Best part is older toddlers will love these activities too! This post includes affiliate links.
1. Sensory Beach: We Do This Every. Single. Day.
“Mommy, beach!” “Mommy, blue water!” the daily requests around here, and I am loving it as much as he is. This set up takes me minutes to toss out and he loves it every single time.
2. Chickpea Foam : Can You Believe This Foam is Made From Chickpea Liquid!?
That’s right – save that liquid when you drain chickpeas. We were making hummus the other day and i dove towards my husband to save the liquid! This liquid makes the most amazing foam and is totally taste safe.
3. Rainbow Pasta: One of the Most Beautiful Taste Safe Sensory Play Ideas
Check out my post all about the five ways we played with this dyed pasta. I couldn’t get over how much fun Q had with this. I found these giant shells on clearance last summer and we’ve played with them so much.
4. Ice Rescue
Ice rescues are always a great idea. You can seriously throw anything into a bowl and freeze it. For babies choose larger items so there are not choking hazards.
5. Moon Dough : A first and a favorite
Moon Dough i feel was one of Qs first true sensory messy play experiences and he loved it. I set it out in a large sterilite bin on our kitchen floor and he couldn’t get enough of it!
6. Frozen Fruit in Water
Back to my freeze everything point – we had a HUGE watermelon over the summer and couldn’t finish it all before it started to turn, so I popped the rest in the freezer and it made for the most fun play! I currently have a pile of lemons frozen into a bowl. Frozen play is free and fun!
This was the first sensory material Q was unsure about. It was a very new and very messy texture. After some time spent going back and forth to it, he got into it and every month or so I’d place some out again and now he shoves his hands right in. It’s fun to show them a wide variety of textures like pudding one day and rice another.
8. Lemon Play Dough
This was a summer time favorite. Check out the whole set up here. I set out a variety of lemons frozen and fresh and made lemon play dough. I love full sensory experiences like this!
9. Beet Play
I love playing with beets. Check out the play dough i made with it. This play here was so fun – here are fun ideas on how to play with them:
1: “Beet paint” I wanted to see if I could make a sort of beet paint, so I tossed in a few beets to our vitmix with some water and corn flour and this made the super bright pink “paint” in the white bowl. 2: Natural Colored Beet Foam: This was a few boiled beets, you can use chickpea liquid to make taste safe, and water in the vitamix and ta-da pink bubbles! 3: Beet swamp – in a food processor I processed some of the beets to make a sort of “beet swamp” 4: Beet “rocks” this was the easiest, I tossed the boiled beets into our “beet swamp” as “rocks” for the landscape
10. Chia Slime
The other day I posted 5 ideas on how to play with chia slime. Q loves this, it’s easy to make ( CRAZY MESSY ) but so worth it, I promise. See how we turned them into dinosaur eggs!
11. Taste Safe Kinetic Sand
This play was SO much fun. It was messy and amazing, I set out a whole kinetic sand party for Q. This is a really great easy recipe for it!
12. Jello – Classic Taste Safe Sensory Play
Jello is a classic. You can put anything into jello and it can lead to hours of fun ( for older toddlers) for babies you can toss some large plastic rings and cups inside for them to rescue, or even large animals. For older toddlers you can make it a really fun counting activity. We LOVE jello play!
Not much is easier then this! you can set out yogurt in a fun design, or use it as paint. We had a LOT of fun with yogurt when Q was a baby and even now.
14. Play Clay
This is also known as my air dry clay. It makes for amazing play clay, and a nice gluten free play dough alternative.
I hope you enjoyed all 14 fun taste safe sensory play ideas!
It’s so easy to toss together a super cute sensory toddler easter basket, all with items found at dollar tree!
Dollar Tree is the perfect destination to craft a super cute Toddler Easter Basket on a budget!
Does anyone else feel overwhelmed in dollar tree sometimes? There is SO much, and it was tough deciding what would go in each basket. Hopefully this guide will help you narrow down what you put in your toddler easter basket.
I threw together three easter baskets for ages 2.5, 5, and 7 all with super cute finds from Dollar Tree! I love putting together sensory craft kits for my little guy and my nieces.
Here are some of my favorite parts.
Start with a Cute Container for your Toddler Easter Basket
I found these bunny baskets, two pink ears for the girls and one blue ears for my son. The baskets were $1 each.
This is the first time Q was seeing his cousins after months apart! I was excited to put together these little activity kits that they can enjoy across all their ages. Make sure to check out the pictures of them playing together at the end! Sensory play is truly ageless.
How I Got All Three for $19:
Baskets: $1 Each (Total $3)
Bunny Bags $1 for 4 (Total $1)
Bunny Tins $1 Each (Total $3)
Craft $1 Each (Total $3)
Easter Egg Filled with Bunny Erasers $1 for 3 eggs, $1 for 8 erasers x2 (Total $3)
Container for Rice $1 Each (Total $3)
Cookie Cutters $1 for 4 pack (Total $3)
Total $19, about $6 each!
Additional items needed if you don’t have at home, I reused materials we had been using.
Play Dough – you can pick up what you need for my recipe here, or buy premade at Dollar Tree for $1 each.
Rice – You can pick up a 2lb bag at Dollar Tree for $1
Food Coloring – You can pick up gel or liquid from really any food store
Pasta – You can pick up a box at dollar tree for $1
Paint – You can pick up some from dollar tree for $1
Beans- You can pick up a bag of white and pinto from dollar tree for $1 each
Play Dough Tins – So Cute for your Toddlers Easter Basket!
I used my play dough recipe to quickly make some play dough for the tins. I kept the colors pastel by using just a little bit of food coloring. This play dough is perfect for the cookie cutters that are in the basket.
Not only is it just regular dyed rice, it’s pastel of course! I got these plastic jars from dollar tree and filled it up with our pastel rainbow rice that Q and I have played with the other day. I feel like rice is the perfect base for small world play and sensory play.
The little bunny bags I stuffed with pastel pastel and pasta beans, perfect for decorating play dough butterflies, flowers, and easter eggs.
My little hack here was the set of 4 cookie cutters came with a heart, butterfly, flower, and circle. So I just gently bent the circle into an egg shape!
All Packaged Up – How Cute Did This Toddler Easter Basket Come Out?!
Can you believe they were about $6 each?? The best part, the kids all loved them and played together. That’s the beauty of sensory play – bringing kids together of all ages. Play dough and sensory materials are ageless!
This week I’m focusing on sharing some Taste Safe Sensory Play Ideas! While these ideas are geared towards babies and mouthing toddlers, I promise your older toddlers will LOVE these too. First up, FIVE activities with Chia Seeds. .
What is Taste Safe Sensory Play?
I often found myself asking this question when Quinn was a baby. I wanted to try sensory play, but feared how much he still put in his mouth before 12 months old. It was honestly a matter of going back to the basics which consisted of water and food. Taste safe sensory play is using items that are OK if a mouthing toddler or baby attempts to explore them with their mouths. Sensory play should always be closely supervised and taste safe play should not be mistaken with edible play.
It’s important to introduce the concept when beginning sensory pay that this is for play, not to eat. A great tip is to eat before sensory play. We often play after breakfast, lunch, and snack time.
Q is now 29 months and water is still a daily go to. Frozen play is a great way to switch up the daily water routine.
How To Make Chia Slime – Perfect for Taste Safe Sensory Play
This is one of the easiest things to make!
Add 1/4 cup chia seeds to 2 cups of water
Optional to add some food coloring to the water, I think it makes for more fun !
Mix well, cover, and place in fridge overnight
In the morning it’s all slimey and ready to be played with! I typically repeat the recipe X4 for the below slime play ideas.
Idea 1: Easter Chia Slime
Mix up a few different colors. I chose yellow, teal, pink, and purple. First I poured in the yellow slime and then I spooned the colors around the tray. Babies love contrasting colors like this, and toddlers do too!
I like to set out some simple materials with the taste safe sensory play.
Here I tossed out some plastic easter eggs, bowls, and scoops. I invited Q to come blend the colors together to see what colors we could make and make his own “easter soup”. You can make this in a smaller amount and set out on a baking sheet on the kitchen floor with your baby to explore with fingers and toes. Chia slime is MESSY and oh so fun!
Idea 2: Frozen Chia Seed Dinosaur Eggs
In the morning we made easter soup, and then we we froze the soup into egg form for some afternoon play. Video here on how I made them!
Materials to make your frozen dinosaur eggs:
plastic easter eggs
The egg carton works to stabilize the eggs so the liquid doesn’t pour out before they freeze.
These eggs are perfect for taste safe sensory play.
They’re slimey and slippery and look so fun! Quinn was so excited to play with these. You can place them on a shallow baking sheet or in a shallow baby pool for your younger ones to explore with hands and feet!
Idea 3: Chia Brain – SUPER Creep Taste Safe Sensory Play
This is a potentially creepy one for Halloween, or well any day! You can find any mold and freeze chia slime into it. This is a great way to reuse the slime. We all know how much I love to reuse everything!
Touching a slimey frozen brain is great for taste safe sensory play!
My toddler LOVED this activity so much. For older toddlers you can melt the brain together, toss in some twizzlers. For babies you can set on a shallow baking sheet to touch and explore together. Check out the post here!
Idea 4: Chia Slime Sunset – A Dreamy Taste Safe Sensory Play Idea
This was one of our favorite activities from the summer. Q and I explore the colors of the sunset by mixing chia slime and playing outdoors with it. As I said, this chia slime is MESSY – so take it outside!
This is a great reminder that taste safe sensory play can be as simple as this, chia slime in a baking tray with a spoon.
It’s easy to over complicate sensory play. This is a material that’s fun enough you don’t need to toss more at it then placing it in a pan and setting out with a spoon.
Idea 5: Taste Safe Sensory Play – Frozen Chia Building Blocks
Here’s another way to reuse chia slime Toddlers will love trying to stack them up and having them be slippery and fall back down. Great for find motor skills. Check out the post here!
There are endless ways to play with chia slime. It’s one of our favorite taste safe sensory play materials.
I hope this post is leaving you inspired to try some easy and really fun chia seed play!
If you’ve been following along you’ll know how much we love to play with dyed sensory rice around here! This post includes affiliate links. Here are three super easy methods to dye your sensory rice and the pros and cons of each.
I introduced dyed sensory rice to Q when he was 18 months old
It was an instant hit. I mean have you ever run your hands through rice before? It’s amazing! Since introducing to Q i’ve experimented with various methods and as our sensory play has evolved as Q has grown, so has the way we dye rice.
There is no right or wrong way to achieve dyed sensory rice
The Taste Safe Method
When Q was 18 months we had moved past the mouthing stage. I still wanted our play to be taste safe. I started dyeing our sensory rice with:
I’ve used both gel and liquid food coloring. I find gel to achieve the most vibrant colors.
I would add about 1.5 cups of rice to a ziplock bag, add in the vinegar and then the food coloring and shake really well. Then I’d spread on a baking sheet and allow to dry – usually overnight.
Pros and Cons of Dyed Sensory Rice with Vinegar and Food Coloring
The biggest and most important pro is that is it taste safe. This I found to be the safest method to achieve bright rice colors for us to play with.
The cons were the smell of white vinegar and it often took a long time to dry compared to the other methods.
My recommendation here is to dry overnight in a well ventilated area to avoid strong vinegar smell.
The Paint Method
Come 28 months old, a full year beyond mouthing anything I started to experiment with dyeing rice. I had hand sanitizer left over from a photo shoot I had produced – i mean a LOT of hand sanitizer, and I decided to start there.
I love working with acrylic paint in my art. It dries fast and the colors are crazy bright. I decided to combine the two to experiment how the hand sanitizer would help spread the paint and prevent the rice from sticking together. It worked GREAT. It quickly became our favorite method for dyeing rice.
This is great Dyed Sensory Rice for your older toddler
I would add a few squeezes of acrylic paint to a ziplock bag with 1.5 cups of white rice in it. Then I would add 4-5 pumps of hand sanitizer. Video here! Shake it up really well and spread on baking sheet to dry. It dries in about 10 minutes and is ready to be played with.
Pros and Cons of Dyed Sensory Rice with Paint and Sanitizer
Pros are the quick dry time and the beautiful colors.
Cons would be you must use a high quality acrylic paint. I recommend this brand linked here. A high quality paint helps avoid the rice ” breaking” into small pieces so you can keep reusing the rice. The obvious con is that this is not a taste safe method.
The Combo Method of Dyed Sensory Rice
I feel this method is a little combination of the two. My friend over at Casa Kinsey tried this. This is the beauty of dyeing rice. There is no “right” and no “wrong” way, rather experiment and have fun with it. Basically what you’re looking for is a way to add color (dye or paint) and a way to spread the color and prevent sticking (vinegar or sanitizer). So this method is sanitizer and food coloring.
This is another great dyed sensory rice option for older toddlers
I added 5-10 drops food coloring to a ziplock bag that contained 1.5 cups of white rice. Then I added 4 pumps of hand sanitizer and shook well. Instead of a ziplock bag you can mix in a bowl as well! Once shaken I spread on a baking sheet and allowed to dry for 15 minutes and it was ready to be played with.
Pros and Cons of Dyed Sensory Rice The Combo Method
The pro is the very bright colors without having to use paint.
The cons is the obvious that this is not taste safe.
Moving forward I’ll be combining methods 2 and 3 in sensory play with Q. All depending on what colors I have on hand in paint and food coloring.
Experiment and have fun! Drop a comment if you give it a try and what your favorite method is. I am happy to not have the vinegar smell anymore! Wondering what we do with our rice when we’re done playing with it? Check out here how to redye it!
Sharing 14 super fun St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Play ideas! We’ve been having so much fun these past few weeks with St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Play! Sharing below different ideas to incorporate the holiday into your sensory play!
This tray took me under 10 minutes to set out! We love chickadees wooden toys for their loose parts. Click here for 10% off the shop. (non affiliate, just an enthusiast for this brand!)
I used a wooden tray from Chickadees and set out a bed of mixed dyed rice as grass. I added some moss rocks from Target, a foam cauldron and gold coins from Dollar Tree, and added a rainbow made with rainbow rice. The wooden letters are from Dollar Tree as well. This took under 5 minutes to set out and Q had so much fun counting!
2. Mixed Pasta & Beans Green Sensory Play
My son LOVES green. He has since he was little. This is a great way to make a really fun mixed base for St. Patricks Day. My secret for great coverage on pasta and beans is using a little hand sanitizer with acrylic paint. Of course, this is safe if your child is not mouthing things. If your child is still mouthing I’d stick to water play – keep reading!
3. Mosaic Four Leaf Clover St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Play
I love creating art with mixed dyed rice and black beans. Q loved counting how many four leaf clovers he could find. When it got all mixed up he grabbed his trucks and dove on in!
4. The Pot At The End of the Rainbow
As Q gets older he really enjoys small world set ups. Small World set ups differ in that they have more of a story set out for them, like this one here. I used a bed of mixed dyed rice as the base, added some flat marble stepping stones, moss rocks from target, trees from target and large trees from Chickadees. The Cauldron was from Halloween and the rainbow is made by my friend over at BeFrendLee. All rainbow loose parts from Chickadees.
5. DIY Pasta Shamrocks
I found these giant pasta shells on clearance and we’ve made so many different things with them. Here Q and I painted the pasta green and then I hot glued them together to make four leaf clovers and shamrocks. I set these in a tray and Q had so much fun counting and playing with them.
6. Gold Jello Dig – St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Play
Here is where I’ll chat about taste safe play. If your toddler is still mouthing try just a bowl of water and use green food coloring. If you toddler is newly past mouthing try a tray of plain green jello, If your toddler is many months past mouthing try this jello dig! Q had so much fun “saving” the coins from the jello.
Tray and dishes found at homegoods and west elm.
7. Redyed Rice Sensory Play
Did you know you can easily redyed mixed rice and look at the beautiful tones it makes. Do this by repeating the steps of dyeing rice. Be sure to check out my All About Sensory Rice post! I layered the redyed rice to look like the beautiful fields of green we saw in Ireland when I was pregnant with Q.
8. Lucky Charms Rainbow – St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Play
I forgot how delicious lucky charms were until I picked some up to use in sensory play. One of my main rules for sensory play is not to eat anything. So we had a bowl of them before we played with them, and this curbed any desire. Tray from Target. Blocks from Crate and Kids. Rainbow Bowls from Chickadees. Four Leaf Clovers I made from Salt Dough – adding the tutorial video here!
9. Shamrock Rainbow Road
This is the holiday of green and rainbows after all! This sensory tray had a secret surprise, gold coins buried below it! Q had so much fun here for days after it was all mixed up!
This was such an awesome for language development. We talked about what we saw, what was next to , above, below, to the left, and to the right of. The colors we saw, so on and on. He Then went and matched the color of his trucks to the color of the rice charms.
11. Counting Sheep – St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Play
Here I used a @williamssonoma cookie cutter for the body, stretched it, used the edges to make heads, used my hands to form the ears,eyes, and legs. Then I took wooden numbers from @dollartree to make letter imprints. Once baked I set them in a mixed rice bean and pasta sensory base and invited Q to find the numbers and match them to the sheep.
Salt dough is 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 cup cold water. Mixed well and let sit for 20 minutes then knead really well. Bake at 175F for 3 hours – more or less!
12. Magic Water Play
Here I’ll chat again about a taste safe play idea. The sand here is actually ground up cheerios. Omit everything except the water and cheerio sand and it’s a perfect taste safe play. For Q he had so much fun exploring and finding all the coins. You can see how this $.99 coins went a long way these past few weeks.
13. Salt Dough Pieces in Rice
Here’s how to make these salt dough pieces. I set them in a tray of rice with some gold coins, so easy!
14. Ombre Rainbow – St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Play
It’s not St. Patrick’s Day without RAINBOWS! My favorite way to dye rice is hand sanitizer and acrylic paint. How fun is this rainbow where we start to see a hint of easter!
I absolutely love this baking soda and cornstarch clay. It takes just minutes to make and has the most wonderful texture! We use it as play clay, like a play dough, and then it turns into stunning crafts and DIY Easter decor by either air drying it or baking it in the oven. Here are 22 more ideas on what to do with the clay!
The Clay is as Simple As This:
1 Cup Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Cornstarch
3/4 Cup Water
Add all your ingredients to a non stick pan and cook over medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat once the consistency is like mashed potatoes. Store right away in an air tight container. Once cool enough to touch, knead well.
Playing with the clay is the part that is the most fun!
I knead the clay really well and set it out on a cutting board with some fun cookie cutters. I’ve linked above some fun ones!
Q loves to knead the clay with me and roll out the clay. I introduced this clay to Q when he was 16 months old, it was an instantly hit. The best part is it’s totally taste safe, and gluten free! Trust me, they won’t like the taste if they do mouth it.
After we play for a while we from some shapes to turn into a garland.
The best part about this clay is you can air dry it, or toss in the oven to bake.
I prefer to bake it. I place on a baking sheet and bake at 175F for about 2 hours, flipping after 1 hour. Depending on the thickness of your designs and oven it can take more or less. You’ll know when they’ve completely hardened. I recommend keeping pieces under 1/4 of an inch . The thinner the better. This clay is prone to cracking, just the nature of the materials.
Before I bake our garland pieces I use a straw to poke holes in them.
Time to decoupage.
So, I am a huge fan of Mod Podge. I also pick up little pretty cocktail napkins all the time and constantly find myself with an influx of them. I am constantly experimenting with the clay and what works and this worked SO beautifully I want to make dozens more. They’re perfect as home decor and gifts!
Simply brush Mod Podge onto the clay and then gently place cut up paper napkin pieces, layer the pieces however you’d like to add interest to the piece! Once your piece is covered use a toothpick to reopen the stringing holes.
Leave the pieces overnight to dry. I placed mine on little glasses so the edges wouldn’t stick on anything.
Time to string them together.
Tie a piece of twine to a plastic sewing needle and have your little one help lace through the openings. You could also use ribbon!
Toddlers LOVE to lace, it’s so great for improving fine motor skills, we lace almost daily lately around here!
I love finding new ways to use quirky recycling, especially when it comes to our Easter sensory play!
Edison Bulb Packaging turned Easter Sensory Play.
It’s never too soon for Easter sensory play. I was so excited to use packaging and turn it into an easter egg for Q to play with. We strung up some backyard bulbs to bring some light to our patio. I caught my husband moments from tossing the packaging into the trash. I didn’t know what I’d do with them at first, but i knew I had to keep them.