Let There Be Mess

An empty ice cream bucket + 4 lbs of rice = FUNNNNN for a 2 year old and a whole lotta clean up for a mommy. I started this out as a way to practice scooping and as a sensory activity and oh did it become so much more.

It started out with Emmy scooping with our measuring cups into other tupperware or dumping her cup into my measuring cup.












We did this for a good, ohhh, 20 minutes before new games evolved by just Emmy be allowed to explore and make my living room a Rice Land.








Then we buried toys.


And scooped them out….









It became a treasure hunt for toys hidden in the rice! It was awesome! She loved hiding them and then scooping them out and acting all surprised when she found something.

Percy the Train got to participate.




Then we deviated from the activity and just played with the toys for awhile. 🙂


Hand scooping really calmed her down specifically though.







What I really loved about this activity was that 1. Emmy really loved it, it was a free time for her to explore, and make as much of a mess as she wanted. I remember that when I used to teach preschoolers we’d let them experience this kind of thing and being a homemaker as well as a mom, I fall into the trap of not letting her make a mess with her play because it creates more work for me. But it’s actually good to let kids get messy, make messes, and have time to not be controlled too much. In a book that I recommend to any parent called Playful Parenting written by a  play therapist, he explains that controlling children’s play too much is like someone controlling how you communicate. Children use their play to process, learn, communicate and even work through what is going on with them.

Allowing her to have this time relaxed her and caused the day to go by so much more smoothly than it was going. She also helped me hand vacuum and sweep up the rice that was left and she kept telling me how much she “helped” me – she seemed sooo empowered.

2. It helped her to focus and come up with many ideas of what to do with the rice. I would talk to her about what she was doing but surprisingly she kept very internal almost the entire time.

3. It kept her busy for OVER an hour and half. For those of us with toddlers, you know that this is a LONG time for your toddler to be entertained by the same thing.

4. It was super cheap. Left over ice cream bucket and rice. I have started a collection bag of any household item that could possibly  be used for something and am storing it in my closet. So far we have salad dressing bottles, water bottles, cans, coffee cans, boxes and other such things. I am finding this really useful when I just want to come up with some random thing to do. You can basically just use any old used household item and make something!

5. Quiet play! Now, I never allowed the THROWING of the rice. If she started to throw it, I’d remind her not to and if she had continued, I would have taken it away.

And as for mess? There’s a time and place. I allowed a safe place for her to make a mess and be messy. We were having a really intensely hard morning and it really did seem to help her and I’m glad of it. As Jerry Seinfeld says, “Having a two year old is like using a blender you don’t have the top for.”


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