This, my friends, is our rice box. It's the newest addition to our playtime stash and a huge hit with the boys, especially Boy #4, my tractor-and-truck-loving 3-yr-old.
As you can see, it's pretty simple: just a big plastic container filled with rice. In this case, 20 lbs. of rice. (At least that's what it was initially. I'm willing to bet we're down to 18 lbs. or so at present!)
I won't pretend it was my idea. I got the idea when Boy #4 visited a friend a week or so ago came home all excited about their "rice box." The friend's Mom explained the concept to me, and since we were headed to the grocery store anyway, I figured, why not?
Within minutes of coming home, I'd dumped the rice into the container (which we already had), and a few seconds after that, all the boys descended on it. Everyone, from the oldest to the youngest, enjoys playing with it.
Yes, it's messy. But it's also easy to clean up, and for the fun they've had with it, totally worth it. Cheap, easy, multi-sensory and imaginative -- my kind of plaything!