Don’t you just love the scents associated with Christmas? Especially the peppermint smell (and taste) of candy canes? Me too!
This December, full of holiday cheer, I decided to experiment with a batch of scented rice that would fill the house with that lovely candy cane smell while also giving us a chance to engage in some fun sensory play.
Say hello to Candy Cane Scented Rice!
This Candy Cane Scented Rice was extremely easy and quick to make (even easier than the Pumpkin Spice Latte Scented Rice we made earlier this fall!). If you’ve never made colored or scented rice before, now’s your chance to try! I’m serious, it’s so easy that you will wonder why you’ve never done it before.
Here’s what you’ll need for your Candy Cane Scented Rice:
- 2 cups dry white rice (1 cup for coloring red and the other for leaving white)
- Red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (found in the spice aisle near the vanilla extract)
- Plastic baggie that seals
How to make Candy Cane Scented Rice:
- Dump 1 cup dry white rice, 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, and a bunch of red food coloring in a plastic baggie (you’ll want to use lots of red to make the rice dark and vibrant in color)
- Immediately seal the bag and squish and shake it until all the grains of rice in the bag are dark red (you can use a reusable plastic container with a lid instead of a disposable baggie but I tried that at first and the red color didn’t mix very well, so, it’s up to you…)
- Dump and spread the red pepperminty rice onto a baking sheet or large piece of wax paper to air dry on the counter for about 30 minutes (it will smell uh-MAZING!)
- Once the red rice is dry to the touch, dump it into a bin to be used for sensory exploration, along with the remaining 1 cup of dry white rice
Super simple, right?
Of course, if you want a bigger batch of rice to play with, then just double or triple the recipe.
This Candy Cane Scented Rice can be used not only for good ol’ fashioned sensory play, but also as a tool for your child’s learning and development! Here are some ideas:
- For the child who always seems lethargic, spacey, or who seems to zone out, try having him or her play with the peppermint rice for a few minutes prior to having to engage in a learning activity (like reading or writing). The peppermint scent is considered to be alerting and can kind of help “wake up” the brain and body to be more prepared to learn.
- Have your child find small items hidden in the rice. Example items include coins, beads, pom poms, or small puzzle pieces. This helps develop both their sense of tactile discrimination as well as their fine motor grasping skills, both of which are important for the later development of good fine motor skills needed for tasks such as writing, cutting, and opening and closing fasteners.
- Offer your child a variety of spoons and containers for scooping. Anything from your kitchen will do! Did you know that scooping and pouring is a fun way to help children develop their ability to coordinate their left and right hands together (known in the therapy world as bilateral coordination), as well as to help them develop hand dominance? Scooping with a tool can also be a non-threatening way to introduce a child who is sensitive to tactile input (or who is even flat-out tactile defensive) to sensory play because it allows them to participate and engage with it without having to touch it right off the bat.
Not sure you can handle the mess, emotionally or otherwise? Read these tips from Taming the Goblin for how to deal with (and get over) the mess.
I truly hope you get a chance to try out this recipe for Candy Cane Scented Rice as you play, learn, and explore with your child.
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