Don't be horrified by the idea of messy play, it gives young children the opportunity to explore materials in a unique way and reaches out to all their senses. Buy a 'messy tray' that you can use for messy play and carry out these fun activities outdoors or on a tiled floor in the kitchen or a conservatory:-
Yellow Brick Road
Buy a cheap roll of wallpaper or lining paper from a DIY store and roll it into a long 'road' in the garden. Roll up trousers and prepare plastic plates of finger plates. Have your little ones step in the paint and then walk down the road creating a footprint collage. Use sticks and other implements to make other marks.
Buy some plastic creepy crawlies and make up a jelly, inserting the creepy crawlies while it is still setting. Give the bowl to your little ones and have them look at the creepy crawlies and dig in with their hands to pull them out. If your little ones won't like creepy crawlies then use other small plastic toys.
Repeat the jelly game but using a packet mousse instead. This time your little ones won't see the toys hidden inside so they must do everything purely by touch. Help them squidge the mousse through their fingers and even let them taste the mousse so that they use all their senses.
On the Pulses
If sloppy is too messy for you, encourage playing with pulses and pasta. Mix together dried beans, lentils, pasta and rice and encourage tactile play. Sort the foods into shapes, types and colours. Make a collage by gluing the dried foods to paper.
Cook up some spaghetti and add a small amount of cooking oil to it to prevent it from sticking. This makes a great treat to play with - try combing the spaghetti like hair, separate strands out, or bend them into pictures.
Messy Play is a fun and important part of play - babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are always delighted to get their hands stuck in to some messy play. They get to feel and touch items and substances they wouldn't normally handle. But, it is also useful for the beginnings of mark-making and ideal for observing their world and how different ingredients change when mixed up. Most importantly - it is fun!
Get a large tray such as a baking tray with fairly deep sides to use when doing messy play. Add some ingredients to the tray and encourage the little ones to mix and feel and play with the substances.
- Flour: Place some flour on the tray. Get some small toys to drive through the flour to make tracks. Mix with spoons and sprinkle with glitter to make it sparkly.
- Flour and water: Add some water to make it slushy and really messy! Great fun!
- Oats: Add three spoon and bowls and some washable teddies and act out the tree bears story!
- Shaving foam: A cheap can of shaving foam can be sprayed on the tray and used to make patterns and marks with spoons and tools etc.
- Jelly: Make up some different colours and cut them up with blunt knives, mix them and squelch them together.
- Pasta: Different shaped pasta and rice can be mixed, sorted and sprinkled. Let the children use their imagination. Make necklace by threading onto string if you have time.
- Cornflour: Mix cornflour and water to make a heavenly gloopy, sticky messy substance to play with.
- Sand: Make a beach, add water in a bowl for sea and mix it all together. Make letter shapes and patterns in the sand or drive through some favourite toys or cars.
- Water play: Put some water in a sink or old baby bath and use it to play! Fill containers, make showers, sprinkle with glitter, use spoons and ladles and have fun! Add ducks or some dolls to wash.
Remember to protect clothing, floor, tables and keep any valuables away from the mess. Have fun!