A week or so ago I dyed rice, inspired by a super crafty mom. Also: she makes me feel like a terrible parent. She's so prepared. And her kids are so participatory. Boy is participatory, but never really in quite the way I was hoping for.
Anyway, Husband was out of commission after a minor surgical procedure, so I was on my own for entertaining both the little ones. I busted out the rainbow rice and a bin and hid a few little treasures. The sensory box was a huge hit, but playtime was cut short when someone just could not restrain himself from throwing rice all over the place. (It's still upstairs. The only time I have the free hands to vacuum is when the kids are asleep, and no way am I waking them up just for neatness' sake.)
We took another crack at it later after careful reiteration of the rules. This time I hid mini Egyptian toys amongst the rice. Again Boy loved it. He even piled rice up into a volcano (or "bolcano") and showed me where the lava was running.
We played for a while, until his snack came calling. Not a bad homemade-ish activity.