Ideas for messy play


Messy play

Children learn through exploring the world around them. A great way to help them do this freely is through messy play. It helps them with so many skills from pre writing skills to developing confidence to try new activities. Here are just a few:

  • Gloop (its an oldie but goldie) – gradually add water and cornflour together to make a slimy paste which runs off your fingers. Add colanders, spoons, forks, tubs, tea strainers to get your children really exploring
  • Shaving foam – spray onto a tray or in a bowl – what marks can you make with your fingers? Any pattern, shapes, numbers or letters it doesn’t matter what marks your child makes this is all early writing practice.
  • Ice – pop little toys into ice cube trays or cups of water and put in the freezer. Once frozen children can hold the ice cubes and watch them melting, revealing the toys.
  • Make up a big batch of spaghetti, leave to cool and let your little one explore. Have fun talking about what it looks and feels like. Try adding some food colouring too.
  • For children who are a bit cautious of mess try starting with very small quantities, a small egg cup full of shaving foam , playdough, gloop etc. then gradually build up to a bowl or tray.
  • Painting in the garden – use water and different sized paint brushes to paint fences or patios. This is great to get little muscles ready for later writing skills.

Other ideas:

Make a witch’s potion – add food colouring, mud, leaves, flowers, plastic bugs…anything you want

For more messy play ideas click the link on the sidebar.

Top Tip

Creating areas for your child to play in a messy way and providing them with the resources will keep the messy area contained. suitable clothing such as wetsuits or old clothes will reduce the chance of clothes getting spoiled. Items such as shower curtains or old bedding can make it easier to tidy up.
More messy play ideas
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Age Groups

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Games & Resources

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