Think of all the different surfaces and textures you encounter every day
There is the cold, smooth feel of a saucepan; Or the hard but also giving feel of a packet of pasta. Or the way different temperatures of water feel, or frozen peas, or the squidge of a cushion
You’d be amazed how long your child can be happy playing about with some pasta shapes on a table top or the floor (you’ll need to decide whether you can cook with them later, probably not!). Or making some mud shapes and pies outdoors in a bucket or a puddle.
But also how much they can learn. Not just about how the world feels, and the different shapes. It also develops their finger and hand skills – very important for helping you cook the pasta, but also the foundation of later writing and all that comes with that!
Anything will do. If you can set up a sand or a water tray, fine. But just exploring some of the things you have around is just as good. If you can chat with them about what they feel and help them compare, then even better.
Don’t worry about mess (although do plan where and how you are going to make the mess). Your child will enjoy, and learn from, helping you tidy up and getting everyone clean again.
Keep an eye out for safety and don’t let under-5’s explore small things independently in case they try to swallow them!