Cian (18 months) is teething badly today, so we tried to plan a variety of toddler play activities to try and distract him. Coloured rice play is always a hit, so we set up a Union Jack rice tray for him.


  • Tray
  • Spoons
  • Bowls
  • Rice dyed red, white and blue

*See how to make painted rice in Christmas Rice. Alternatively, if like us you have a toddler that puts everything in their mouth, fill zip-log bags with rice and mix with food colouring. It is all edible so is taste safe, but the uncooked rice doesn’t taste very nice, making it a deterrent.


Whilst Cian was having a nap, Ioan helped set up this Union Jack rice tray for him.

When doing activities in the high chair, I have to be especially careful that they are taste safe because Cian associates the high chair with eating. After putting a spoonful of rice in his mouth, Cian realised it didn’t taste nice, so tried to scoop it back out with his fingers. I gave him a hand to get most of it out, but he spent the rest of the activity crunching on little bits that were stuck in his teeth.

He started scooping the rice slowly with the spoon.

Cian banged the spoons together.

He used his hands to fill the bowl. When he accidentally spilt some of the rice he tidied it back up.

Cian then emptied the bowl again, using his spoon.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS (2013)

Physical Development

Moving and handling (8 to 20 months)

  • Passes toys from one hand to the other.
  • Picks up small objects between thumb and fingers.
  • Enjoys the sensory experience of making marks in damp sand, paste or paint.

Personal, social and emotional development

Self-confidence and self-awareness (16 to 26 months)

  • Explores new toys and environments, but ‘checks in’ regularly with familiar adult as and when needed.
  • Gradually able to engage in pretend play with toys (supports child to understand their own thinking may be different from others).
  • Demonstrates sense of self as an individual, e.g. wants to do things independently, says “No” to adult.


Shape, space and measures (16 to 26 months)

  • Enjoys filling and emptying containers.
  • Associates a sequence of actions with daily routines.

Understanding the world

The World (16 to 26 months)

  • Explores objects by linking together different approaches: shaking, hitting, looking, feeling, tasting, mouthing, pulling, turning and poking.