Whilst shopping in our local Sainsbury’s I glanced at the bargain shelf as I usually do, wondering if I really wanted a dented tin of mushy peas, and spotted a large bag of hamster sawdust bedding. Now, we used to have a hamster, she escaped one summer night and went off for a hamster adventure around Hoxton, so I wasn’t thinking ‘bargain pet bedding’. I was thinking…’bargain toddler activity’!
At Ivy Street I try to balance our messy play activities between ‘productive’ and ‘non-productive’, in other words, between making something they can take home which needs to look like something, and something they ‘just play’ with. My bargain bag of sawdust was destined to be a non-productive morning of mess and mayhem. I piled it up in our large Tuff Spot tray, hid a few plastic bugs and shells in it and put some of our dinosaurs climbing the sawdust mountain – boy that stuff expands when you tip it out!
The kids had such fun exploring the material, hunting for the ‘treasure’, marching the dinosaurs around, measuring, pouring, handling and, yes, throwing!
The great thing about sawdust is that it’s Dry Mess – a quick sweep up and you’re done! Well, apart from the bits in the teapot in our play kitchen, but we’ll gloss over that!
It’s so important for our little ones to have times of free play with all kinds of stuff. They learn so much for experimenting with different textures and materials. You could try this as home on a smaller scale. What about a tray of Rice Krispies or a box of rice? Keep it small scale and dry and you can easily clear it up when you need to clear away for dinner or homework.
And keep an eye on that bargain shelf for new materials at knock down prices!