That leaves our carpeted basement, bathroom and the rest of the house that has hard wood floors. So nowhere really ideal for something like rice. I wouldn't mind the basement but it's been out of commission for six months due to some flooding and if I vacuum afterwards then most of the rice might get sucked up leaving less for next time. I really like to reuse the sensory bins I create not have to add new rice each time. So I've come up with a couple short cuts to cut down on the mess.
I first tried putting down a blanket. It worked pretty well but pieces of rice inevitably fell off of it and since it had little areas where rice could get it stuck it was difficult to really get it 100% cleaned off. Here the kids are using a St. Patrick's Day bin on it.
Next I tried a sheet. I thought a Queen size sheet would give more space so less would end up off it and it would allow me to gather it up easily. It did work fine for something things like the coffee beans my son is playing with in the picture. But it was still tricky to clean up and stuff ended going off accidentally especially with rice.
Then I got a Kusiner toy box from IKEA. I love it! It's just big enough for both kids to sit together with a small bin. Or they could use it independently with a larger one. Stuff does still come out especially when they are getting in and out or if my daughter throws a handful or two. But I feel like I have it more contained. Plus the box folds up when we're done for easy storage. Makes it a lot easier then a small baby pool, which was another idea I had at one point. Now the downside is rice will get stuck in the grooves. But that's not too big of an issues since we only get it out for sensory play. Being able to clean up quickly and easily lets us do sensory play more often. Also for really messy play like shaving cream then I just put them in the tub.