Messy play is often a turn off to doing activities with your kids. These 10 ideas to keep it clean will encourage more messy play activities!
What can I use for messy play?
You can use so many things for messy play. From cereal to shaving cream to cooked spaghetti to paint. Here we will give you a whole list of ideas to use for messy play. Plus 10 amazing tips to keep it as clean as possible so you can really enjoy messy play stress free!
Why is messy play important?
Messy play is important for early development and discovery. When you give kids tactile and sensory play time you are encouraging their curiosity. At the same time giving them an opportunity to discover and explore the world around with with all of their senses. Also the excitement that comes with messy play helps to develop strong happy hormones!
What age should you start messy play?
Messy play is wonderful to start introducing at 6 months old or more. As soon as you see the interest in touching and feeling the world around them it’s a great idea to follow their lead and encourage even more. Being careful of course with items your introducing since most babies at that age will put it straight into their mouth.
10 Ideas for Keeping Messy Play and Tips to Keep it Clean
Hello, my name is Crystal, writer and creator of the play based website Growing A Jeweled Rose.
We share lots of sensory and messy play activities on Growing A Jeweled Rose and have come up with all sorts of ways to contain the mess and make clean up easier. Today I am sharing 10 tips for keeping messy play clean!
Many moms have expressed concern for the messiness of some projects. While some activities do get very messy regardless of preventive measures, these 10 tips will help alleviate much of the mess, and for some activities, all of it.
Cover the Play Space Prior to Mess
The first of my simple ideas to keep messy play clean is to cover the messy play space.
You can easily do this using a drop cloth, table cloth, or even a shower curtain liner purchased from The Dollar Tree.
We use seasonal table cloths from holidays past and they work great! They can be wiped clean too!
Take Messy Play Outside
Another of our ideas is as long as it is warm enough we do all of our messy play outside.
Then, once we are done, we either hose the play space off or sweep any mess up depending on what we played with that day!
Use the Bathtub for Messy Play Ideas
The next of my messy play ideas is simply to use the bathtub!
During the colder months we do almost all of our messy activities in the bath. Using the dry, empty bath as a play space is a great way to contain the mess and the surrounding surfaces easily wipe clean.
Once play time is over simply turn on the water and all the mess will wash right down the drain.
Our Creative Art Bath Station is a perfect example. I set this up for my girls on a rainy day and it kept them busy for over an hour.
All the mess was contained and easy to clean too!
Turn Bath Time into Messy Play Time
Not only can you use the bath as a play space but you can also turn bath time into the messy play activity with even more ideas.
One of the best ideas of a messy play bath I could share with you would be our Themed Ocean Bath.
The girls had so much fun exploring with the seaweed pasta, and once bath was over, the pasta was easily gathered, and all other remnants of play washed straight away.
Use Washable Art Supplies
This is probably the best messy play ideas or tip I have to offer. Moms often ask me how I keep the girls clothes from getting stained during all of these activities.
The answer: washable art supplies! We use washable liquid watercolors in place of food coloring, washable paint, markers, and more!
My favorite line of washable art supplies is Crayola. We use it exclusively and have never had a problem with stains.
Cover Them Up for Messy Play
We definitely still do activities that could stain clothing.
Also, sometimes you may still want to take your children out later in the day and don’t want their clothes to be covered in paint, even if it will wash out later. Cover them up using an old shirt or a store bought art smock.
Seal Up the Mess
If you are a parent who just doesn’t want to deal with the mess on any level there are other messy play ideas for you. I consider myself a lover of messy play and there are still plenty of days when I don’t want to bother with the mess.
Sensory Bags are a great way to allow children to explore messy materials with NO MESS! They are inexpensive and very easy to make too! We have made a variety and used them in so many ways!
Make Messy Play a Clean up Activity
One of the messy play activity ideas my girls love is also the most simple.
A bucket of soapy water and a couple of sponges keep them entertained for quite a while. They love splashing around in the water and wiping down the cabinets and other kitchen surfaces.
The best part – once they are done I pull out a dry mop and use the spilled water to quick clean the floor. You can also include cleaning up as part of the activity!
Limit Materials During Play
I am not one to limit the materials I give my children to use during the creative process.
What I do instead is give them materials in tiny amounts. I give them a small amount of paint and then replenish their supply during the activity as they need it.
This really helps cut down on the mess! They don’t go crazy this way and even if they do they only have a little paint to go crazy with.
Keep Messy Play Simple
There are lots of simple ideas to keep potentially messy play activities clean. Play dough at the kitchen table is a perfect example. Read about how to make homemade play dough here.
On or near carpet play dough could be trouble but if given to a child to explore while seated at the table it is actually not a messy activity at all. The same rule applies for markers or crayons.
If given to a free child the walls or floors could become a canvas. But if seated at the table these materials are not messy at all.
If you are worried about the table becoming part of the art work, cover it with butcher paper. We buy ours from The Dollar Tree.
Have Fun with Messy Play
If things are going to get a little messy at least try to relax and have fun!
If you are worried about the mess the whole time you won’t very much enjoy the activity or the time with your little one. Dive into the play!
I love the messy stuff and not just for my kids. I love goop and I can’t keep my hands out of water beads. Play alongside your little one, take in their ideas and make the most of the messy play time!
What are your favorite messy fun activities? We’d love to check out your creative ideas!
Crystal is the writer and creator of Growing A Jeweled Rose, a play based website packed full of fun and creative playtimes for children. Crystal is currently staying home with her two small children, Jewel and Rosie, and strives to make the most of her time with them by providing fun and enriching activities! She strongly believes in the value and importance of play and that childhood should be a magical time in life. Drop by Growing A Jeweled Rose for tons of fun and educational activities for kids