We had the great privilege of attending Brenna’s fabulous first birthday bash over the weekend. On the play agenda? An oatmealbox. Yes, that’s right. A sandbox full of rolled oats.

Kind of ingenious in my opinion. No worries if the kiddo munches on a fist full of oatmeal. Sand? A different story. Oatmeal is a really great idea if you’re planning on an indoor sandbox. A quick websearch revealed that moisture can often be a problem for oatmeal in an outside box… so be sure to keep yours covered or inside!

It made me wonder what OTHER things you could do with oatmeal. Here’s a round-up of ideas!

Oatmeal Clay
Out of playdough? Try this natural molding equivalent! According to Disney Family Fun (where I found this idea!) this is a sturdy, nubbly dough that provides hours of smushing and sculpting. It dries rock hard overnight and makes convincingly Jurassic-looking figures and pretty, earthy beads. Pretty simple ingredients, too:

  • 1 cup rolled oats (you can use instant or old fashioned)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra
  • ½ cup water
  • Food coloring (optional)

To make the dough, simply stir together all the ingredients in a large bowl, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough forms a lump. For colored clay, you can add drops of food coloring to the water before combining it with the dry ingredients. Knead it on a floured surface, adding flour as needed, until it is smooth and not too sticky. Allow finished creations to air-dry overnight. Leftover clay can be refrigerated in a ziplock bag for up to three days.

I like this because the Bug is constantly putting things in her mouth – – a little rolled oats and flour never hurt anyone.

Oatmeal Octopus
Preschooleducation.com had a great idea for using oatmeal as a textured art material to create an octopus. Get a variety of colored powder paint and lots of oatmeal. Give each child a small sandwich bag with some oatmeal in it. Let them choose any color powder paint and put about a tablespoon of paint into the bag, close and shake! Do this for all the colors you want. When you are ready to do the project give each child an octopus pattern and their choice of colored oatmeal. Spread the glue and put the oatmeal on!

Bernstein Bear’s Breakfast Oatmeal
Having trouble getting your tike to eat their oatmeal? (It’s one of the best breakfast foods for the kiddos because it provides morning-long energy!). Then entice them with a recipe from their favorite Sprout TV show! The PBS Sprout Diner writes that “kids will make a face – literally – with this beary, berry good oatmeal.” Here’s what you need and how to make it:

• 1 cup oats
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup 2% milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 small apple, chopped
• 1 tbsp. golden raisins
• 1 tbsp. raisins
• Blueberries, raspberries and honey for decoration

Directions: In a small cooking pot, bring the oats, water and milk to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 5-8 minutes until the all of the liquid is absorbed and the oatmeal thickens. Add the vanilla extract, chopped apple and raisins to the mixture and stir well. Spoon the oatmeal onto the serving plate and decorate with a bear face. Use some runny honey to make the face of the bear shiny. Then use blueberries for the eyes and mouth and a raspberry for the nose. Time-saving tip? Use instant oatmeal if you are in a hurry. Parents make the oatmeal and preschoolers can help decorate the bear’s face!

Oatmeal Raisin Ice Cream
Yeah. I’m thinking the same thing. How good could this REALLY be? But I do love freshly made oatmeal raisin cookies. If this tastes like an Oatmeal Raisin Ice Cream Sandwich, I am totally game. What a sneaky way to get the whole grain goodness into your toddler, too! Ice Cream for breakfast anyone? (Thanks to Grandparents.com for the recipe!)

  • 3/4 cup sugar 

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the sugar into the egg yolks until thickened and pale yellow. Set aside. Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oats, salt and cinnamon. Reduce the heat and return the milk to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the oatmeal is thick and creamy.

Slowly beat the hot oatmeal into the eggs and sugar. Stir in the cream. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight. Add 1 cup raisins to the machine when the ice cream is semi- frozen. Allow the machine to mix in the raisins. Stir the chilled custard, then freeze in one or two batches in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instruction. When finished, the ice cream will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer ice cream, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze at least 2 hours. Yield: Makes about 1 quart.

What are your favorite creative things to do with oatmeal?