Awhile back I made a rice bin – also known as a sensory bin – for Zoey. The kid loves it. She would beg “Can I have my rice pleeeeeaaaasssseee????” on an almost daily basis.
It started out very small. One of those little pink buckets the hospital gives you when you have a baby. The kind you can literally wash your newborn in. It was so small though, that I kept having to clean up about a pound of rice off the floor every time she used it, even with a towel underneath. Also, there wasn’t much room for her to actually play.
So the other day I upgraded her rice bowl to a full out rice bin. Bam. Toddler sensory heaven. I don’t know what it is about the feel of the rice, but she loves it. I remember loving it too as a toddler. The daycare I went to had a huge trough (probably about 3-4 feet long, but seemed so much bigger when I was that little) filled with rice at toddler waist-level. I remember never being able to resist shoving my hands in it every time I walked by and always wanting to play in the rice when given the chance. It just felt so good.
We had to teach Zoey that it was ok to put her hands in the sandbox and get them dirty. Same thing with fingerpaint, garden dirt and a few other things. But rice she loves. I suppose because it seems so clean.
I see a lot of these on Pinterest and other blogs. Many have “themes” to them or some kind of underlying educational purpose. I don’t make ours very structured though – we’re big fans of free play, exploration and imagination-driven fun. Today we made “rice tea” and “rice soup” before having an “Easter egg hunt” in the rice (we buried eggs in the bin and then she dug around to find them all again). Both activities were quite a hit. I suppose Zoey is learning some basic scientific principles by pouring and filling and funneling and digging in the rice. It also works on her sensory issues a bit, I imagine.
Honestly, I’m just happy to have something other than TV that holds her interest long enough for me to take a shower.