Our daughter loves to have jobs to do and cooking is something she really enjoys! Each night, her dinner usually ends with a good stir and mix-up of all that she has left over until it starts spilling out all over the table. There is always this inner turmoil in me about whether to say "No playing with your food!" or to allow her exploration. Most days I decide to allow it. I've been following a blog called Play At Home Mom that encourages "positive parenting" and if you follow their facebook page, they have frequent picture posts and activity ideas that are labeled "Yes, you may..." They are sometimes things I would never think of saying "yes" to but they have really challenged me and I try to say "yes" as much as I can. I highly recommend following them here. Saying "yes" is freeing... for both me, and my child! (example in picture below... "Yes, on this wintery day, you may wear your bathing suit and pajamas!")
We have a play kitchen here but imaginative play can get boring without some supplements to spice things up every once in a while. Some uncooked rice, either white, or colored is a great addition to the play kitchen! We move our little kitchen into our real kitchen for this kind of play because the clean-up feels easier there. I've decided that as long as the rice stays in that one room, it doesn't matter how messy it gets. At the end, I just vacuum it all up.
I have found that the more "real" stuff I add to play time, the more captivated my daughter is. She loves to help me cook and so feeling like she is actually doing it on her own is a really big deal to her. Measuring spoons or cups, muffin tins, old spice shakers, whisks, etc. Real spoons are way more exciting than play spoons. Real rice is way more exciting than plastic fruits or invisible pretend foods. You get the idea!
Here's the recipe I followed for our colored rice...
- Mason Jars or Zip Lock Bags
- Food Coloring
- Cookie Sheets covered with foil
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar, 2-3 drops of food coloring and 1.5 cups of rice to jar
- Seal tightly and shake shake shake until the color is well mixed (add more food coloring if needed)
- Drain if needed
- Pour colored rice onto cookie sheet
- Place cookie sheet in oven until rice is dry (recipe calls for 15 minutes+, I think mine probably took longer than a half hour, just keep checking to see if it's dry)
- When dry, remove from oven, cool, and play
- We store our rice in mason jars on the counter
Here's another recipe that uses kool-aid and rubbing alcohol. There are tons of options so just google colored rice if you need more ideas!