Messy play is one of many different ways that children learn and develop. One of the ways they learn is by touch. Sensory play is all about letting kids ‘touch’ their way to understanding. Playdough, for example, is one of the most common ways to allow children to create and build through the power of touch. However, there are so many other great items around the house that can be used for sensory or ‘messy’ play.
The best thing about the messy play is that you can easily set the stage at home. Most of the ingredients needed to make the right textures can be found in your pantry or cupboards. So the next time you and your little one are all out of play ideas, pull out the messy play!
Sand and Water
Mud is one of the classic ways for your kids to enjoy messy play. If you have a sandbox then fill it with water as well. Let the kids get dirty by bringing out different spoons, containers and shovels. Your little boys may also enjoy putting their matchbox cars and Tonka trucks into the mud and letting them get extra dirty as well.
Shaving cream makes an excellent alternative to finger paint. It is also a lot cheaper and much safer for your house. After all, if some shaving cream gets onto the floor, you can easily wipe it up without worrying about staining the area in red, green or blue. Simply apply a small amount of shaving cream onto a smooth surface and let your kids draw with it.
Goop is a concoction of water, food colouring and cornflour. The consistency should be quite thick but runny enough to pour. You will need a big tub to use for the Ooblek, such as your old baby bath or bucket. Again, bring out the Tupperware containers of all shapes and sizes and let your child dig in.
To make slime, mix pure soap flakes with warm water and leave the mixture to set overnight. You can also add food colouring if you want. Slime, once settled in the morning, will be lumpy and come with a delightful smell. You can do a lot of different things with slime. One fun game is to ‘hide’ different toys in the slime and let your child seek these items out. Matchbox cars, plastic animals and other smaller items are perfect for this hide and seek game.
Enjoying Messy Play without the Mess
- Enjoy messy play outside, preferably in a shaded spot on the lawn
- Have a hose nearby ready to wash down all of the equipment as well as the kids
- Naked messy play is often best. Or, if it is too cold for naked messy play, then look for plastic smocks
- Have plenty of clean towels ready after they have been cleaned up
- Expect to spend a little time cleaning up the mess; however, encourage your children to help by placing the containers in the dishwasher after they have played with them and putting the towels in the laundry once everything is cleaned up
Messy play helps to develop fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. However, not all children love to get dirty. Some kids hate the feeling of dirt on their hands and may be hesitant to get involved. Try to introduce a hesitant child to messy play in a social environment, such as at a Playgroup or during a family trip to the beach. They may be a little less reluctant to get their hands dirty if Mum, Dad or other kids are all involved in the activity.
What is your child’s favourite messy play activity?