DIY Pouring Station

Some days I need an activity that is fun enough to capture their attention long enough for me to drink my coffee.

That’s where this DIY pouring station got it’s inspiration from!

I made the unfortunate mistake of missing our bi-weekly cardboard pickup a few weeks ago which left us with a ton of cardboard taking up space in our kitchen. After making an awesome cardboard castle inside our playroom I started to think of what other kinds of epic play setups I could pull together using our recycling stash and a DIY pouring station made sense!

We’re currently in the middle of a crappy winter season. While it’s been on the milder side and not freezing my butt of completely each time I leave the house is awesome it has also meant very minimal snow falling. No snow makes our backyard cold and not so much fun and then you add a pandemic and well, you start to lose your sanity just a little bit! 

Luckily my DIY pouring station was quick and easy to set up and ended in a nice long, surprisingly quiet playtime after snack. 

DIY Pouring Station Materials: 

  • Cardboard boxes 
  • Active World Tray 
  • Packing Tape 
  • Boon Cogs
  • Boon Pipes 
  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors

For pouring:

  • Rice
  • Shredded coconut 
  • Various thrifted and recycled utensils (wooden spoons, measuring cups, laundry measuring scoops…)
  • Learning Resources tools

I started by closing the tops of both boxes and then stacking them together. Once a good layer of packing tape had them attached together I taped the boxes to the Active World Tray. This way it would stay upright and we wouldn’t have a DIY pouring station tumbling over onto anyone. 

I have been hoarding toilet paper tubes for quite a while now so I had a nice stash to dig into. Some tubes got cut in half, some into three pieces. A few pieces got holes cut throughout them as little escape routes for the rice and then some remained regular old toilet paper tubes. 

Since we own them already I also used some of our Boon Cogs and Boon Pipes. Originally when I planned out the DIY pouring station I presumed I’d be able to cut little slits in the cardboard to slide in the suction cup backings. Unfortunately the boxes I used were too thick! So the Cogs and Pipes were taped to the box, with the tape going on top of the suction cup. Note: most of the Boon Pipes are not compatible with rice and have “walls” on the inside. Only a few actually worked for this.

I love using rice for all types of sensory activities. It’s fairly cheap, it’s versatile and it’s reusable. I make sure to vacuum the playroom floor right before we do activities like this to be sure the rice can stay as clean as possible. When the activity is over I’ll give it a quick wash, leave it to dry completely overnight and then take it back to storage in an airtight container until the next time we need it! 

I keep our food related play to a minimum and try to keep it for real cooking or baking activities. Food is a privilege that not everyone has easily – to counter that, I make sure I donate to our local food banks, keep it as low waste as possible and try to stick to ones we can reuse. 

Pouring activities like my DIY pouring station have some great learning benefits. Motions such as filling, dumping, pouring and scooping help to practice their fine motor skills. They’re fun ways to learn math (less/more) and work that hand/eye coordination. 

After I snap a few photos I usually end up joining in with them (sorry, coffee!). Since we were using rainbow rice we spotted different colours together and tested out which tube set ups worked best. 

No matter their age a great way to encourage learning is through open ended questions and stating observations, mixed in with a dab of encouragement and celebrating the positives. Some examples from our time playing with the DIY pouring station include: 

” Wow, did you see how fast we made the blue gear turn!”

” What happens if we scoop the rice into this cup?”

” That was such a great pour into the tray!”

“I see lots of blue rice! What colour do you notice in the rice?”

To help combat the rice all ending up on the floor, I kept our Melissa and Doug dustpan+brush beside me. Anytime too much rice was collecting outside of the DIY pouring station I would scoop it up into he dustpan and dump it back into the tray. We keep our Melissa and Doug brooms nearby for this same reason too! 

We ended up playing with our pouring station for almost an hour and for our crew, that’s an amazing about of time. Since finishing I’ve detached the boxes from the Active World Tray but have kept the boxes intact for future DIY pouring station activities. 

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