artsy ideas for kids and families

Corn Play

Little J and Friend A have school together on Monday Wednesday and Friday mornings. I usually pack a lunch, and we hang out on the playground for a while before going home. We sneak into the school to use the bathroom when we stay too long, and on the way to the bathroom, there is a process table full of whole corn. The boys would stay here forever if I let them. I ask the teacher where she buys the corn…the Tractor Supply store in town. A huge bag only costs about $12. You can buy it and share with a friend if you have a small process table, or something comparable.

tractor supply buy

We talk about the plan to buy the corn and put it in the process table for a few days until I have time to go out and actually buy the bag, so there is a sense of anticipation. We finally have the bag and need to clean out the process table, which has old play dough in it. We finally get the corn in the clean table.

burying hands in corn

The kids bury anything they can in the corn…fingers, hands, arms up to the elbow, their heads…they don’t stop there. They start to climb into the tub, which is not very big, so I take out the tub and place it directly on the pavement of the driveways.

burying cars

I ask them to sit on the driveway and put their feet in the table. They want to SWIM in the corn, so I ask them to take 5 minute turns in the tub.

whole body experience

They move onto putting other things in the tub. Cars, containers, bears…

finding bears

Friend H starts delivering little parcels of corn to “neighbors,” like she is a milk man. Friend A finds some train tracks and cargo cars and fills the little vehicles with corn, pretending it’s gas.

Quick warning…if you find this corn, decide to buy it, decide to put it in a container for the kids and they love it…you will find the corn everywhere…in the undies, in the couch cushions, in the grass. Be forewarned. This is a HAPPY MESS.

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

featured at hands on : as we grow


  1. I found a few random pieces that snuck over to my house!

  2. Love these types of activities. They can be very theraputic as well. My son’s speech therapist uses a big container and fills it about 1/3 of the way with large dry beans. The sensory input he gets from the beans totally relaxes him enough where he can speak with little to no stuttering.

    • Jena

      September 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      The benefits of sensory play is great, in simple ways, fun ways, and for very important learning. So happy to hear that it helps your family so much. Thanks for commenting.

  3. My boys tried this for the first time this summer when we visited our family farm in Michigan. I can’t believe how much they enjoyed it. So fun!

    • Jena

      September 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      Debi, If and when the kids can enjoy such a messy project without too many restrictions, it can be a great experience. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Oh how fun! I loved how he just climbed right in there! That is something my son would do! I was thinking about using corn for our next sensory tub. Great post. I found you through It’s Playtime.

  5. I love this, ‘happy mess’ is the perfect name for it. Looks like the kids had so much fun, will have to see if we can get bags of corn like that here!

  6. I’ve been wondering where to buy corn like this!!! Thank you! We have a local farm with a “corn box”, and my boys could spend every day playing in it! I’m going to head up to Tractor Supply Co this weekend and get a bag of that corn and get them set up! 🙂
    I would love it if you would stop by my blog to say hi! We made some pumpkin playdough this week that we’re really proud of! I’m also featuring a recipe for pumpkin pancakes today! I hope you’re having an awesome day!

    Mandi at BBM

  7. My son loves playing in corn and you really do find it EVERYwhere for awhile. I am always amazed at where I find it. Haha. It looks like your kids had fun with it! I love the title of your blog! Thanks for sharing

  8. LOVE this! And so will my kids! Since my dad farms corn, they’ve played in a corn field and seen how the plant grows. Not only will this be a great sensory activity for them, but they’ll also see how corn looks when it comes out of the field!

  9. Great post! I had a knowing little laugh at your “happy mess” warning. I did something similar for my son using dried yellow split peas. It was one of his favourite sensory tubs but I am still finding random little yellow peas now and I created that tub back in July! July! As you said, a happy mess though!

  10. Do you have a problem wth bugs in the corn? I have a bin of it and little moths and bugs are in it. I even rinsed it off first. Can I clean it with bleach water? Or anything else? Or is it just a one time play and throw away?

    • Jena

      September 12, 2014 at 10:18 am

      The bag of corn lasts us about a year at which point, I throw it away and buy another bag when the boys ask for more.

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