This is a crazy simple idea that will seriously keep your kiddos entertained for hours. We have been stuck in the house together for a week now with sick little ones, and they have requested to "play with the rice" at least once a day. And when they do, they stick with it.
Here's the basic idea:
Some kind of grain
scooping, mixing and measuring stuff
I literally grabbed an empty bucket, swept through my kitchen for the stuff I barely use (funnel, egg separator, a whisk that had lost a wire, the 2/3 cup measuring cup, a disposable container from blueberries, a spice bottle, a parmesan canister) and tossed it into the bucket. Then I got a 5 kilo bag of rice and started pouring until it looked like enough to play in...probably about half, so roughly 5 lbs for this size container.
I let my kids at it and they love it! I just have to put up a baby gate to keep the 1 year old out of it and sweep when they are done. No other requirement from me! That was about a month ago and I just put it up high and take it down again when they're ready.
A couple of tips or ideas after the fact:
- I threw in some chickpeas because I had them. I wouldn't say the variety added anything. Just stick with one thing.
- dried beans or popcorn would work just as well
- my kids have included other things in their play, like putting socks on their hands to dig in it (felt weird), then filling up the socks just because. It would also be fun to bury little toys to dig out - cars, figurines, whatever.
- I would recommend choosing a container with a top if you're planning to make this a long-term toy. It's dusty here and I can tell their hands get dirty when they play. Not a big deal since this was a bucket I already had, but if I bought one specifically for this, I'd definitely go for a lid.
- The rice gets everywhere! Containing the kids to the room with a baby gate is ideal. And I usually make sure they have shoes on, at least house shoes, so they don't have rice digging into their feet.