Playtime with flour: messy but easy

Preschool art series, continued…

Once upon a time, I decided to avoid cleaning the house by letting my oldest get it a little messier.

That’s where this flour activity started.

I’ve actually been working on this particular post for a while. Unfortunately, on top of everything else going on, my kids have been taking turns getting sick. My youngest was just starting to sleep through the night before this, so I’ve been missing the extra sleep a little bit more than usual. She’s doing better now, though, and I’m now trying to catch up on life again.

As a result, the kids have gotten to play with their flour this week, since it keeps them occupied for 20-30 minutes at least without a lot of supervision. Clean up, on the other hand, is a bit more hands-on!

This is definitely a messy activity, but it’s been a fun way to add some sensory play on occasion, and the flour is surprisingly easy to sweep or vacuum up afterwards. Most of the time, the kitchen needs sweeping anyway, so once we’re done playing, we do a bit of cleaning together.

You will need: 

  • Several cups of flour
  • A cup or two of a small grain such as rice, barley, lentils, cornmeal, etc

You could just use flour, but I used leftover uncooked rice to add texture. 

Mix your ingredients together in a baking pan. Then, from your kitchen, find:

  • Measuring spoons
  • A funnel
  • A bucket to scoop the flour into, then empty it back into the pan
  • A small sieve or colander

You could also use small beads or bolts to hide in the flour, as well as miniature trucks, playmobile people, or any other small toys you have around. I would just recommend avoiding cloth toys. Also, avoid carpet if you can, since that can be harder to clean up.

I supervise things a little, to make sure the kids don’t empty the flour onto the floor, but they treat it a bit like an indoor sandbox and keep the flour in their pans for the most part. My oldest especially loves digging around in the flour to find his bolts.

When they’re done, we sweep off the table and vacuum or sweep the floor. I dump out any flour that gets mixed up with dirt on the floor, but I save the rest for the next time the kids want to play.

Bonus idea:

After you make your flour + rice mixture, you can use any leftover flour to make tortillas or biscuits.
For tortillas, I improvise a little, but generally do something similar to this recipe from Taste of Home:

2 C. flour
½ t. salt
3 T. olive oil
¾ C. water

Mix the flour, salt, and olive oil, then add the water gradually, stirring until mixed well. Knead the dough lightly, and it let rest for 10-20 minutes. (This resting time helps to make the dough stretchy and less sticky.) Then divide into 8 sections and roll the sections out into circles. Heat a skillet and toast the tortillas one at a time, a couple minutes per side.

These will probably be smaller and a little thicker than the ones at the store, but they work great for quesadillas, bean wraps, and peanut butter sandwiches.

See also: