Sensory play with rice and lentils

As the weather is finally getting nicer, we are able to play out in the garden after school. This gives a great chance to do some more messy activities. The activity we did today – Sensory play with rice and lentils – I wouldn’t have wanted to do inside the house, as it can be a bit hard to keep it all contained.

But out in the garden without needing to worry about mess, the boys had a lot of fun!

IMG_5838I always tend use the kids old baby bath for messy play as its a great size for the 3 of them to gather around, with enough space not to be getting under each others feet but close enough for them to feel as though they are sharing the activity.

Today I decided to fill it up with a cooking theme – primarily using rice and daal (the red lentils). I put some spoons of spices on top, so the children could mix it and see what happened to the colour of the rice. I’ve used turmeric for the yellow colour, paprika for the red and salt for white. I avoided chilli powder or black pepper incase it was a bit “strong” for them if they accidently touched their eyes! You could use anything, but the ones I chose are things we commonly put in our food so they seemed logical choices for me so they can learn some of the basics about cooking while they are doing their sensory play! I also included a cup of water , so that once they poured it, it would help all the colours to mix in.


The turmeric definitely has the biggest effect on colour, and I was really glad we had done this outside as I know it can stain and the children did not keep the rice and daal mix in the container, they were filling up the plastic cups and pouring it here and there, then scooping it and bringing it back. Our hands all got stained a bit yellow too, but the joy of being outside is that you really don’t have to care about it too much. It does wash off but don’t include any turmeric if they are wearing good clothes because you may regret it.


This was a good sensory activity for all their ages, they all got their hands into it and explored the different textures, and did plenty of filling and pouring too. As well as the feel of the textures, they can also smell the ingredients and again Turmeric is the strongest one. If you wanted to make the activity more about scent of the different spices then it would be good to choose some sweeter ones like cinnamon to compare.


The activity also sparked some imaginative play and creativity for my older child (4 years), as he started to think what else can we add. Get some grass or leaves and mix it, make it into “coriander.” Put some stones and shells into it – I’m not sure exactly what ingredient they were supposed to be 😉 He enjoyed pretending to cook with it and bringing it for me to eat.

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For more sensory play ideas, follow on Pinterest.


10 thoughts on “Sensory play with rice and lentils”

  1. Iam a big fan of outdoor messy looked like your gang had a great time exploring those ingredients!Popping over from #MessyplayforMatildaMae

  2. good to know I have saved you money! It really does work well. I’m meaning to buy one of the proper trays but it is quite expensive and in the meanwhile this totally does the job! Have fun with your messy activities!


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