Messy Play Ideas

Looking for messy play ideas?

Messy play (and sensory play) is a fun activity for kids of all ages! It engages all the senses and is particularly important form of play especially for babies and toddlers. If you like, you can read about the benefits of messy play here.

The idea of ‘messy play’ can be too much for some parents. But we promise – the benefits are huge! And the reward of seeing how much fun your child is having is an added bonus.

How to get started – messy play ideas

The beauty about messy play is that it doesn’t have to be expensive – there are SO many options! It doesn’t even need to be that messy, even something like marking the driveway with chalk can entertain a toddler for ages.

Here are a few simple messy play ideas using staples around the home you can try at home or playgroup:
  • Coloured rice: rice can easily be coloured and scented and stores well for ages! Make a tub and put it on a tarpaulin on the floor. This is great play indoors or under shelter on a wet day.
  • Coloured spaghetti: playing with spaghetti is always a big hit and it’s so easy to do!
  • Oats or cereal: a box or tray of oats or dry cereal can provide a fab dry play material! Add trucks and diggers and it can become a building site. Pour water in too and start mixing up some concrete!
  • Sand: this is a great sensory experience with wonderful texture. For the home you an use a sand table or even just a plastic tub filled with clean white sand. Sand can also be played with at the park or beach.
  • Water: Try adding colour to the water, or ice blocks to discuss temperature.  Add water creatures one week then cups and funnels another. Less is sometimes more; try adding toys on just one theme rather than putting all the toys in every week.
  • Shredded paper: a shredded paper sensory bin is simple to use, very inexpensive to create, and lots of fun to play with.
  • Fun with food: for the littlest ones, let them explore squishing, tasting, feeling and grabbing their food. Let them make a mess – they’ll love it! Food is also good for the bigger kids too – helping you in the kitchen is a great sensory experience. Mixing, rolling, cutting are all great experiences.
  • Shaving cream: is an amazing, messy, sensory experience that uses touch, sight and smell. Keep it plain or add in a few drop of food colouring and let the kids have fun mixing it together.
  • Finger paint / water based paint
  • Head outside: Nature is a playground of textures, smells, and new sensations. Let the kids jump in puddes, make mud pies, dig holes or jump / throw leaves.
Looking for some more inspiration? Here is our list of fun activities you can make to take it up a notch:

Don’t forget to add in various objects such as spoons, scoops, containers, empty plastic bottles, toys etc. to really enhance the play experience!