Playdoh in the carpet.
The dried up Playdoh found in random corners.
But, then my daughter asked for Playdoh -- her Montessori preschool had a Playdoh station set up. I asked her teachers about it, and they expounded the merits of Playdoh: hand-eye coordination, small motor skills and creativity. They also proposed a set up that limited the potential destruction that I feared. We still use this set-up:
- Only open up 2-3 colors at a time.
- Have an old cookie tray as a workspace for each kid.
- Working tools are rolling pins, cookie cutters, and plastic ware.
We have receive a few Playdoh "kits" as gifts as well (my son loves his burger maker), but the classic tools are the most popular, easiest to use, and easiest to maintain.