So the other day was miserable and rainy. And I was "over" Play Doh. And Chris was sick of coloring. And we were all tired of tv, trains, books, dinosaurs, and everything.
SO I decided to let him do something messy, but not REALLY messy.
I got a tray (I think I paid all of $1 for it at Ikea, but I already had it). I dumped a bunch of rice onto it. That's it. The tray mostly contained the mess and anything that ended up on the floor was easily vacuumed up.
Chris spent about an hour scooping, pouring, piling, drawing. He employed dinosaurs and trucks, not to mention kitchen tools.
I think next time I'm at the store, I'll pick up a bag of dry beans to create some additional textures for him to play with.
A few tips - it will get on the floor. Just vaccum. And it's probably a good idea to use rice you don't need to eat for dinner that night. I think toddler hands are pretty gross and I certainly had no intention of eating that stuff.