Pondering Playtime // Christmas Tree Tuff Spot

December 21, 2018

Welcome back to Pondering Playtime, my fortnightly series where I share a favourite picture book and a craft or play activity to go with it. This week, I’ve chosen The Christmas Bear by Ian Whybrow*, and created this easy Christmas tree tuff spot to go with it.

The Christmas Bear – What’s the Story?

The Christmas Bear is about a present – Christmas Bear – who gets left behind when Santa leaves the workshop on his sleigh to deliver the presents. Can Christmas Bear keep up with Santa, and make his way to underneath the right Christmas tree in time?

The Christmas Bear – Christmas Tree Tuff Spot

Easy Christmas Tree Coloured Rice Tuff Spot

For this activity, I simply used coloured rice, formed into the shape of a Christmas tree. I used red split lentils and a star cookie cutter to create the star at the top of the tree. Then, I let M get to work mixing it all up!

How To Dye Rice

To dye the rice, I simply used a generous squirt of gel food colouring, and a little alcohol gel, mainly because I thought I’d heard somewhere that alcohol is good for stopping the dye from transferring.

(Note: I’m still not sure if this is accurate information, as M decided to take a wet wipe to the tuff spot while playing, and this caused green dye to transfer onto her leggings!)

This was very much a use-whatever-you-can-find method of dyeing rice! I popped some rice into a tupperware container, squirted in a generous amount of colouring and a little alcohol gel, then gave it a really good stir with a chopstick.

The rice seemed quite wet, and I’m impatient, so I lined a couple of baking trays with kitchen roll, spread out the rice on top, and popped the trays into the oven on a very low heat (I think about 80ºC) for 15 minutes. I then scooped the rice back into the containers and put it away until the next day, when I used it in the tuff spot.

On the whole, this seems to be a successful method as I didn’t notice any of the dye transferring until M took some wet wipes to the tuff spot!

Christmas Sensory Tuff Spot

You will need:

Christmas Tuff Spot – What M thought

The Christmas Bear is a lift-the-flap book, which M found engaging. The illustrations are also lovely (they’re by Axel Scheffler, who did the illustrations for The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, and other Julia Donaldson titles) and contain a lot of humorous detail, which both M and I enjoyed.

As for the tuff spot, M hovered over me excitedly while I was putting this together. Obviously dyeing the rice took a little bit of time the day before, but the actual set up of this tuff spot couldn’t have been easier. M enjoyed getting stuck in and sprinkling, mixing and examining the grains of rice.

Overall, a nice, quick and easy festive sensory activity.


If you enjoyed this, you can find more Pondering Playtime activities here, and you might like to join my Early Years craft and activity Facebook group; Play Craft, Explore. We’d love to have you! And lastly, don’t forget to Pin it!



An Easy Christmas Tree Tuff Spot Sensory Activity and DIY Rice Dyeing Tutorial

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