I love spring, and I love the rain. I even went running in the rain yesterday afternoon–how refreshing! But day 3 of rain with kids who are just starting to savor the pleasure of being outdoors everyday is a bit…mind-numbing. So I pulled out an old favorite for the first time with Little H, just to see how it goes: sensory play with beans and dried peas. Did she love it!
As I look back, the last time I did this we did it outside to minimize the mess (which may be wise) but this time we had no choice but to give it a go on the kitchen floor. I was hoping for ten uninterrupted minutes of work while I sent out emails, so I brought out a cookie sheet, various plastic containers, a spoon and a few miniature CAT vehicles. I dumped three bags of beans and peas onto the cookie sheet, gave the spoon to Little H and told her to have fun. No helicoptering, no instruction. Just explore and investigate and experiment!
Like I said, I was hoping for ten minutes; well, she played by herself for ten minutes before big sister joined in and then they played together for 23 more! I sat at the table and supervised from afar because even though Little H isn’t putting things in her mouth anymore, Em was constantly introducing new kitchenware into the equation to extend the fun. Some things were good–measuring cups! spatulas! rubber brushes! the bottom of a turkey baster!–others were not so good–No, Em, let’s not use the cheese grater. So even though this is a delightful simply busy activity (one that keeps your kids quiet and happy for a bit so you can get something accomplished–find more here), you still need to have your Mommy eyes and ears on to make sure no one gets into mischief.
When they finally looked like they were about to quit, I grabbed them and reminded them it was time to clean up. While I put away the accessories, they attempted to scoop beans into a plastic container where they will live until the next rainy day. Then it was a battle over who would sweep, with everyone getting a turn to “help” and Mommy finally finishing the job.
This was an awesome way to keep the kids engaged while I finished some work that couldn’t wait until after lunch. Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab an extra bag of pasta, beans, rice, or peas! They are worth their weight in Busy Children gold!