There’s nothing kids love more than getting their hands dirty. Not only is messy play bound to be your children’s favourite kind, but the sensory experience it extends can encourage learning in a truly unique way.

Put a tarp down in your lounge or lawn, and have a go with the following messy play ideas the next time your kids say they’re bored!

  1. The great outdoors

The old-school, no-fuss version of messy play is letting the kids go wild outside. Out in the garden, they’ll find dirt, mud, sand, insects, flowers – the list goes on. Encourage them to take their shoes off and feel the grass beneath their feet.

There are myriad games kids can play in nature. Whether it’s crafting mud pies, helping you to do the gardening, or playing a good old game of hide-and-seek in the bushes, they’ll be entertained for hours in the great outdoors.

  1. Glitter pictures

Do you have a budding art-and-crafter in your midst? Allow them to exercise their talents by setting up a station complete with glitter, glue, crayons, and the like.

  1. Playdough

There’ll be few of us who don’t remember with fondness the times we made playdough from scratch – and this classic play idea still offers buckets of fun for mess-loving kids. All you need is a few household ingredients and a bit of heating and kneading, and the kids will be away laughing.

  1. Baking

Kids love to bake, and coaching them through simple recipes can be a fantastic lesson in following instructions. Plus, baking means eating the mixture and making a delicious mess during things like cookie decoration (in other words, every child’s dream).

Parents can be understandably concerned about letting their kids go wild in the kitchen – to reduce waste and ensure their creations are edible, you could measure out the ingredients prior and confine the mess to a mess-table.

  1. Water fights

For a summer’s afternoon, there are few activities better than a water fight. Arm your little warriors with water bombs and a couple of water-guns, and watch as they chase each other around in delight.

What’s better is that water doesn’t stain, meaning there’ll be no need to pull out the Persil after your kids have finished the battle.

  1. Oobleck marbling

If you haven’t heard of Oobleck before, it’s simply mixed cornstarch and water. Why not add food dye to the mix, and introduce your kids to the colour palette? They’ll love handling this sticky, gooey stuff, and can even use it to make splatter or marble paintings, if they’re so inclined.



  1. Feet-painting

Buy some poster paints and allow your kids to explore the fine art of painting with their feet. What they produce will be an invaluable keepsake for mum and dad as they grow older.

  1. Spaghetti spools

Spaghetti is a vital material in every parent’s messy-play toolkit. You can colour it with different food dyes and watch as your kids knit the strands together, you could help them dye it black to make a “worm-pot” or you can even use cooked spaghetti strands as brushes of sorts to create swirly-whirly paintings.

  1. Make some slime

Been meaning to teach your kids about non-Newtonian substances? Get them on the chemistry train early by making some homemade slime. It couldn’t be simpler: you only need one specific ingredient, Borax (sodium tetraborate), and once you’ve got that, you can use household ingredients to make all kinds of wonderful goo.

  1. Getting sandy

Many people’s best childhood memories are made at the beach. With all that sand, water, and interesting sea life to peruse, beach-going can be as messy as your kid wants it to be. Take the dog and some sandwiches along for a proper family day out.

Growing up, Cloe’s favourite weekend activity was playing house with her friends. They would gather sticks, stones and leaves from the backyard and “cook” them in their makeshift kitchen tent. To this day, these memories still a bring a smile to Cloe’s face. Visit Tumblr to see more of her published work.


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