Yes it is a mess. Yes you have to clean it up. BUT yes it is fun, and Yes they love it.
Large plastic containers can make for some great fun for little ones. While it was not intended for this little one to end up in the bin he certainly had a good time. Purchase a few bags of white rice (and beans) if you like and dump them into a bin of your choice. Add cars, trucks, or small rakes and shovels.
Let little hands feel the texture of the rice and beans. They may just love running it through their hands. If you leave the room for any amount of time be prepared to walk back in to this. Kids in the bin throwing rice all over. Luckily it can be vacuumed up if you are done or swept up and put back in the bin for later.