The weather this summer has been less than desirable. We have had crazy rain storms for weeks and the temp hasn't even gotten over 80 yet...and its the middle of June! So when the sun does shine some light in the afternoon, we run outside and soak it up.
On the back patio we have a sand/water table, which can be very very messy. So on an afternoon when we don't have a lot of time (or energy) for clean up, I pull out the rice box.
I first learned about the rice box several years ago when Angel's occupational therapist used one for fine motor skills. They are very easy to create:
Get a rubbermaid box that has a closeable lid
Get several bags of dry rice (not the instant rice, the bags on the lower shelves). This box has about 5 bags of rice, it could use more but my kids tend to get pretty messy if there is too much.
Go to the dollar store and get kitchen utensils and cups that have slots and holes for sifting, as well as solid spoons and cups. I took some of the paper cups and cut different size holes in the bottom to act as a funnel of sorts.
Also pick up small plastic animals or objects that can burried and discovered in the rice. Our box has several plastic lizards and some plastic fish (that were also from the dollar store)
The great thing about the rice, is that it won't get messy all over their clothes, hands, hair, diaper and every where else that sand finds itself. I usually use ours outside, but you can use it inside on a rainy day. Dry rice will vaccum up very easily or sweep up even easier.
There is something theraputic about moving your hands around in rice. Even I can't keep myself from playing along with them!