Sunday, August 19, 2007

What to Do on a Rainy Day

We were stuck inside on a rainy day. (Rain? In Seattle? Do tell!) So we decided to try something new with Oliver. We took a couple of big plastic bins - wide and shallow - and filled them with dry rice, beans, and other grainy stuff. Then we set them at chest-level on a table, put a whole bunch of measuring cups, spoons, funnels, and other gadgets in the bins and let Oliver loose on them.

(I will admit readily that we stole this idea. A few weeks ago, we went to the Bellevue Art Museum for their kid-friendly open house, and one of their toddler activities was a simple plastic bin filled with flax seed and an assortment of scoops and vessels. Oliver was completely absorbed in it, and we both immediately bookmarked the idea for later exploration.)

He loved it. Absolutely loved it. He poured rice and beans from one cup to the other, he filled up little clear tubes with stuff, he scooped and scooped and dug his hands into the rice. He made a complete mess on the floor, but it was all easy enough to sweep. The important point is that he was occupied for well over an hour, and would probably still be playing there if we hadn't packed it up for another day. (An added bonus of using airtight plastic bins: you can keep everything in there until next time.)

Here's the layout. We gave him funnels, measuring scoops and cups, a few random kitchen utensils, and several odd-sized cups. He played with every single thing we put in the bin.

The secret ingredient: pinto beans!
(And white rice, and barley, and some brown rice, too. Maybe even some couscous.)

Here's Oliver's very-very-serious expression as he carefully pours rice into a clear plastic tube.

You'd think he was conducting sub-atomic particle research,
from the look on his face.

Dad lends a hand.

And the verdict is ... great idea, mommy and daddy!


Dee said...

This is a Montessori type "lesson" (self-directed play) that kids just love! :) See more at

Jade Daniella said...

Wow its doesnt take much to make a child happy , i entertained my nephew once by goign down to the local supermarket and asking for some empty boxes.. and i filled each box with different things .. and basically we played with boxes of sweets and papers for nearly two hours until he felt the need to mess the whole house up that was. shows children have small attentions spans :)

good idea though ill tel my sister that idea.