Micah is completely in love with pouring. He spends easily half an hour at the sink every day with a trickle of water running and some cups, just pouring back and forth, back and forth. I was trying to think of other things he could pour without getting too messy. Sand is out. Rice is too small. He tries to eat raw pasta. Then a relative recommended beans.
Beans! How perfect. And so that very day I emptied about 3 pounds of dry beans into a small box.
He loves it! I put the towel down for easier clean up. He uses all sizes of his stacking cups for pouring and sometimes I give him a spoon for "cooking" the beans. I think he has a cookie scoop in this particular picture. Whatever works.
Now I know what you're thinking ... mess factor? I have explained to Micah that the beans must stay in the box and he obeys for the most part. But I do always have to follow his playtime with a good sweep of the general play area. It has been nothing out of the ordinary so far. And to me, it is a small price to pay in order to occupy an energetic toddler.