Messy Play Activities

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Recommend for: Cognitive, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Toddler, Preschooler,

Categories: Art and Craft,Outdoor


Messy play plays a crucial part of early child development. By introducing children to different textures and sensory experiences from birth, it helps build their understanding, acceptance and interest in the world around them.

Messy play promotes positive learning attitudes such as curiosity, independence, problem-solving, investigation and exploration. 

In celebration of Messy Play Week, here are some Messy Play ideas you can try today with your child.

1. Balloon Painting

This messy play activity stimulates a sense of spatial awareness and adds an extra challenge and exercises some coordination skills too. 

What you'll need:
 • Balloons
 • Child-friendly paint
 • Cardboard or large sheets of paper (easel pads, for example)
 • Large safety pins
 • A funnel

1. Make sure to make room or a workspace that can cater to a decent amount of messy paint and splatters and place the cardboard on the floor or stable surface. 
2. Fill the balloons with paint with a funnel or for a better sensory experience for your child, try to fill the balloons with paint with your child without a funnel. 
3. Close the balloons at the top with a knot and use a safety pin to poke small holes in the bottom of the balloon. 
4. Give your child the balloons and encourage them to squeeze the paint on top of the cardboard. 

2. Sensory Soup  

This activity involves different senses: touch, smell, and noticing patterns and differences as well as the use of fine motor skills.  

What you'll need:
•  Herbs from the garden, or dried herbs
•  Flowers, shells and stones
•  Ladles and spoons
•  Bowls
•  Cups or scoops
•  Scissors
•  A large pot of water
1. You can begin this activity by walking around your garden and introducing your child to the different herbs. If you don't have herbs in the garden you can place the herbs or flowers in different tubs to separate them.  

2. With your child crumble, cut or break the different plant leaves and smell the scent of the herbs. 

3. Ask your child: Which herbs or flowers they like the most?

4. With your child pour the water into the bowl and ask them to help you "make the soup" by adding the herbs, shells and stones into the bowl. 

3. Colourful Melting Ice Cubes 

This activity allows your child to explore the different material states of water and the power of the sun and temperature. 

What you'll need: 

•  Ice cube tray
•  Food colouring, or other non-toxic dye
•  Water 
•  L
arge plastic container, or outdoor area
•  A glass of warmer water 
•  Towels that can be stained

1. Simply fill the ice cube trays with water and add a few drops of food colouring. You can even try to make a rainbow of colours. 

2. Once that’s done, add the colourful cubes to the plastic container and take it outside.

3. Encourage your child to interact with the ice. If its too cold, encourage them to help pour the warm water over it to see the change in state. You can even add them into the bathtub during bath time as watch as the water begins to change colour. 












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