We have to do this type of activity when Little is down for her naps as she has a tendency to eat everything she comes across. For the few days after we put this tray together, Poppet would ask for it as soon as I had taken Little upstairs!
I bought a kilo bag of rice for £1 and poured the whole lot into a tray and added some trucks and cars we bought from a carboot sale for 25p each, along with some cardboard tubes, scoops and a funnel.
Poppet started off running the rice through her fingers and pouring it from hand to hand. Uncooked rice has a lovely sensation and it is very therapeutic to play with. I think Poppet liked it because you can play with it like sand but it doesn't stick to your skin and make a mess like sand. Eventually she tried fitting the cars and trucks into the tubes, figuring out which ones were 'too big' and which rolled down. She liked declaring "it fit mum!".
She made roads through the rice, picked up and deposited mounds of rice with the trucks, used the scoops to fill up the tubes to the top with rice; so many different ways to play with rice! A lovely little sensory play activity. I'll reuse this rice for another playtime but I think I'll dye the rice next time to add an extra element to it.
The next day I got the megablocks and cellotape out and got Poppet to help me try to make some kind of truck-filler-upper. My first attempt wasn't very good and collapsed to which Poppet observed "it not very good mum". Our second attempt worked better although I don't think it would win any architectural prizes.
We turned another tube into a tunnel that Poppet could drop cars down, which got a lot of use. A lot of rice did escape the tray so you do have to have a dustpan & brush handy to clean up after this activity but it's more than worth it!
Poppet: 2yrs 8 mos