Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Simple 'Toys' - the Rice Tub

I have been reading a bit about Montessori education lately.  After a couple of months of procrastination I finally bought the Montessori at Home book which Meg had recommended on her blog Sew Liberated some months ago.  

Truth be told, I ended up ordering the bundle of book and printable materials and making the decision between purchasing the book alone or the bundled package was why I ummed and ahhed for so long!  I am nothing if not a procrastinator when it comes to making relatively small purchases:)  But I think, should anyone be interested, I would just recommend purchasing the book.  Particularly if you have young toddlers, the printable material is for much older pre-schoolers.

Anyhow, one of the life skills activities in the book is the Rice Sensory Tub.  This has been a real hit with Ginger since I set it up about two weeks ago.  On multiple occasions she has played with it for over an hour.  Well worth the five minute clean-up at the end.

It is simply a plastic tub, one-third filled with rice in which you place a number of household items for pouring practice and sensory play.

Our rice tub has some measuring spoons, a small jug, small plastic takeaway containers, an old spice bottle, glass jar (yes, I know, the wisdom of this with a toddler is questionable, but I haven't had any problems), some funnels and measuring cups.  All things I had around the house anyway.

One of the aspects that I like about Montessori is that though the child is allowed to play with a learning material when they like and, within limitations, as they like, they are expected to play with it 'responsibly' and return it to its home at the end of its use ready for the next child to play with it. 

I have been working with Ginger on her keeping the rice in the tub.  If you want to undertake this activity inside I suggest you have a dustpan and broom at the ready because there will be rice on the floor no matter how nicely your child plays with the tub.  While I have no problem with rice going on the floor during appropriate play, the rule I have enforced is that any deliberate slinging of rice outside the tub results in the lid going back on and the tub being put away for another day.  Ginger has been pretty happy to comply with this limitation.

Also, just to combine a little Montessori and Steiner methodology in one learning experience - why not get your child to help you with the clean-up?  Yes, I am well aware as the mother of a two year old that the 'help' is more likely to be a hindrance - Ginger wields the brush with such alacrity that the rice ends up all over the floor rather than just in the vicinity of the tub.  But, they have to start someday and one day the fact that they will willingly take up a dustpan and broom to clean up a spill will be a help!

Placing the tub contents back in an ordered arrangement at the completion of her time with the tub seems to be a little challenging for Ginger at the moment so we work on that together.  But, she has certainly got the idea of putting the whole tub away when she is finished with it, even if in actuality that means calling in Mummy since the tub is too heavy for her to lift.

Have you set up any activities for your toddler or preschooler to enjoy lately?  Or, have you any experiences with Montessori education you would like to share?


  1. I'm going to suggest this to our Kelli. I think Millie Rose would LOVE playing with rice while her sisters are at school.
    You are such a good mummy. I can sense your good and true enthusiasm for learning. Teachers find this encouraging!
    Have a wonderful day with your two precious wonderbugs!

  2. My toddler twosome love their rice play and we have had the same tub going for almost a year,love that stuff!! They also like 'washing dishes' in a little tub and hanging out some clothes on a little line! Many of the activities i do with the girls are Montessori based but i just modify as some of the principles and printables can be a little tough for 2 yr olds i find...or that could just be me lol! Ginger looks like she is having so much fun!!!

  3. Hi there. I just discovered your blog and am loving it! From the Montessori at home to the great books reading, I'm hooked.