A wonderful go-to busy activity, not to mention a fun sensory activity for toddlers, is to set out a tray for flour play!
I recently challenged my newsletter subscribers to three very simple activities (get on the list to get the challenges!). I love these challenges and often find that they even help myself get out of a rut. One of the three activities was this one, set out a tray of flour to let your kids explore. You can see the fun readers had with the challenge (and previous ones) here.
After giving that challenge, I saw all these photos coming back of their kids doing the flour activity. I found myself kind of panicking with the messes in their photos and surprised that so many chose to do that activity because of the mess.
It was kind of a wake up call for me. I don’t normally mind messes! And I usually promote messy play. But we haven’t been messy like that in a long time (See Henry’s version of this activity from 4 years ago). The challenge that I prompted my readers with actually challenged me to do it! So we did!
I just gotta remember that messes can be cleaned up!
And can I tell you that now, after allowing the mess, my kids are asking to do this activity every single day since? And it is one of the simplest ever!
I found two trays I had on hand for each George and Louis. And dumped just a quarter cup of flour on each. That’s plenty! Don’t overdo it, because you will be cleaning it all up and the trails it makes with the kids…
I gathered a few supplies, such as measuring spoons, a slotted spoon and a can strainer. And I just let them have fun!
They made doodles.
And drew letters and shapes.
They made handprints (over and over again!) which led to flour splashing out.
We learned quickly that we could erase away any of our marks my a quick shake of the tray. Much like an Etch-a-Sketch (affiliate link)! And they could start right back over again.
Then the boys dug out their cars and trucks to drive in the flour. There had to be a snowplow to move all the ‘snow’ too.
Just the first day we got the flour trays out three times. Cleaned up, shoved them off to the side and came back later. This is one that I need to learn to be okay with the mess, because its well worth it!
My quick cleanup tip for this activity:
Get the kids involved in cleanup! What can they do to help? My kids love the vacuum so they get to suck up all the spilled over flour mess. After playing with all the toy cars in the flour, they were a mess! I set them to washing off the toys in the sink, and they just think its part of the fun!
Here’s how Henry’s played a few years ago
I set out a jelly roll pan with a layer of flour spread along the bottom.
Be sure to only add as much flour as you want to clean up, because it is guaranteed to spread… (but wait, don’t get discouraged, check out these 10 tips to keep messy play clean, plus we had fun with our clean up, read on!)
I intended for this to be practice for drawing and writing with his fingers in the flour. However, Henry only made a circle and that was the extent of that. Oh well.
Henry soon got his backhoe, loader, semi and went to town plowing ‘snow’ and clearing the path.
Its like an indoor sandbox!
This provided the entertainment for the entire morning. Even through Grandma visiting.
I’m not sure which was more fun though… the plowing… or the cleanup.
Sucking up the flour with the vacuum showed instant gratification. It’s always nice to see that it actually makes a difference when you’re cleaning.
I did set a sheet down under Henry, although flour still got everywhere – but it’s easily cleaned up. This is one of the 10 tips to keep messy play clean.
Vacuuming gets the majority of the flour mess, but it doesn’t make the table spot clean.