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Making Onigiri with Children

Seaweed Nori punch embossing at How we Montessori

My children love Sushi but when we make it at home Otto (3yrs) will play with and eat all of the rice. So I was thinking, why not make Onigiri. Onigiri are Japanese rice balls traditionally made in a triangular shape and wrapped with Nori. We've taken a  slightly different approach and used children's rice moulds. Some Japanese parents use these moulds to make decorative rice balls for school lunchboxes.

Onigiri can be left plain or have toppings or fillings. For now we've decided to keep our Onigiri plain. I presented Otto with various rice moulds, just cooked (warm) Sushi rice, Nori (seaweed) sheets and Nori cutters.

Above Otto is using the Nori cutters to cut out facial features for the rice balls. The cutters are just like hole punches and we use the Nori sheets like paper. 

Seaweed Nori punch embossing at How we Montessori

This standing rabbit rice mould was our favourite. It clicks together on the side, you fill it at the bottom and use the device to firmly push the rice down. Otto loves pushing the rice and filling up the mould. Then you unclick the plastic mould and it's easy to get your rice rabbit out.

Seaweed Nori punch embossing at How we Montessori

This reminds me of sand play, where children fill buckets or moulds with sand to make castles and shapes.

Kids making rice using Japanese mould at How we Montessori

Here Otto is pushing the rice in, the firmer it is the better it will hold its shape. 

Seaweed Nori punch embossing at How we Montessori

Then we open the mould and pull the rice rabbit out. We add Nori eyes and mouth.

Kids making Japanese rice balls at How we Montessori Otto three years

This small cat mould was also suitable for little hands. 

Kids making Onigiri at How we Montessori

Perfectly imperfect. 

Kids Onigiri at How we Montessori

This is a rice mould that you fill and then shake. Here Otto adds the eyes and a mouth. 

Putting Nori seaweed features on Japanese rice Onigiri at How we Montessori with kids rabbit mould

Another rice rabbit. The Nori is fragile and the child has to be gentle when using it. 

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The Onigiri can be eaten straight away, used as a side dish for lunch or dinner or put into lunchboxes. As we use Sushi rice it is nice and sticky. We add salt to our hands when filling the moulds with our hands (as recommended by Onigiri recipes) and have a clean cloth nearby to wipe our hands if the rice becomes too much. Be aware that some children may not like the texture of the sticky rice on their hands.   

Resources: Otto (43 months) is working at the kitchen counter using his Kitchen Helper. His Fruity apron is by Sophia Pea & Co. Our rice molds and accessories are from Daiso, including the Rabbit Standing Rice Mould and Nori Punch Tools. Similar Rabbit Rice Mold and Nori Punch Tools here. We use Nori Sheets and Sushi Rice

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