The Best Messy Play Ideas For Childminders

Messy Play Ideas

Learning through play (and messy play) is essential to everything we do in Early Years, and has been proven to help the brain establish new synaptic-connections. Messy play, also allows children to experience more textures and sensations whilst giving us the ability to strengthen the learning process through expanding their senses.

Messy play is also great for at-home learning and can be done at home, at the setting and even outdoors (especially as Spring is now approaching fast).

All of these messy play ideas and activities are perfect to support some, or all of the areas of child development covered by the frameworks in England and Wales: communication and language, literacy, mathematics, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, expressive art and design, and understanding the world. So get ready to roll up your sleeves and get messy! (Don’t forget to share these moments with your parents through our free app too).

Messy Play Ideas For Childminders

messy play ideas

Messy Play Idea One: Bark rubbing

Perfect for this Spring weather, you can enjoy taking the children out in the garden or to your local park, and explore different textures from the things around you – bark is a great example.

You will need:

  • Paper (not too thick as it will not take on the pattern)
  • Wax crayons
  • Paint for fingerprinting

Instructions:

  1. Encourage the children to explore the texture of trees in a chosen area, looking at the bark and talk about how it feels, using new words to encourage their literacy skills.
  2. Taking the paper, encourage the children to hold this to the bark whilst the crayon is rubbed over the paper to make a pattern.
  3. Encourage the children to hold the paper themselves with one hand whilst rubbing the crayon over the bark with the other.
  4. Using the paints, allow the children to explore the world of mini-beasts either with the use of reference books or the laptop and encourage fingerprinting onto their bark rubbings to make their own mini-beast woodland.

Original idea source: https://www.pacey.org.uk/mypacey/activities/springtime/bark-rubbing/

 

Messy Play Idea Two: Marble rolling

his is a fun messy play activity that helps a child’s movement as well as hand-eye coordination. Use a mixture of different sizes marbles, as well as colours to create a mixture of designs.

You will need:

  • Marbles of various sizes
  • Empty crisp tubes
  • White card
  • Paint in various colours with a small pot for each colour
  • Tea tray

Instructions:

  1. Divide the marbles between the children and allow them to explore rolling these backwards and forwards on a tea-tray.
  2. Ask the children to place the marbles into a shallow container with a small amount of their chosen paint.
  3. Encourage the children to roll the marbles around the shallow container so the marbles are coated in paint, ideally three or four marbles in various colours of paint.
  4. Place a piece of card into the inside of the crisp tube (cut to size as appropriate).
  5. Ask the children to add the marbles and place the lid onto the tube.
  6. Shake and roll the tube so as to make lots of noise… this could be done to music to make it more fun, and the tubes used like a ‘shaker’.
  7. Gentle remove the lid and tip the marbles onto the tea tray.
  8. Remove the card to see the design.

Extension Idea:

Cut shapes from the card and make personalised decorations, e.g. gift tags for a special occasion.

Original idea source: https://www.pacey.org.uk/mypacey/activities/springtime/marble-rolling/

Messy Play Idea Three: Balloon Painting

Balloon painting is a fun way to get kids involved in creating art. By using balloons you have a fun way to apply paint that can make some beautiful textures and patterns. Did I say it was fun? Actually painting with balloons is an appealing sensory activity. It has the benefits of the feeling of squeezing paint filled balloons without getting paint all over your hands.

You will need:

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

Instructions:
Make sure you have a workspace that can take a decent amount of messy paint and paint splatters. Start by filling the balloons with paint. You can use a funnel for a cleaner result, or enjoy the sensory fun alongside the children and fill the balloons without a funnel.

Close the balloons’ opening at the top with a simple knot and use a safety pin to poke holes in the bottom of the balloon. Embrace any whoopsies that may occur as the children apply paint to the cardboard by squeezing it out of the balloons. If the balloon falls onto the cardboard, just embrace as the splatters as part of the creative process.

 

Original idea/source: https://mosswoodconnections.com/activity/balloon-painting/

 

Messy Play Idea Four: Finger Painting for Toddlers

I know that many people avoid finger painting with toddlers (it’s messy – I know!) but here’s a great one from myboredtoddler.com

You will need:

  • Paper
  • Washable poster paints
  • Paper plates, or something else to create a paint palette
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Painting mat and painting clothes

Instructions:
It’s as self-explanatory as it sounds; set out the paints and the paper in a safe space and let the children enjoy it. This activity is about the motions rather than the outcome. Even older children can enjoy freedom in the fun without the pressures of a particular outcome.

 

Original idea/source: https://myboredtoddler.com/finger-painting-toddlers/

Messy Play Idea Five: Drop Stones

Enjoy this fun activity and get the children involved as they watch how different objects float or sink in the water. Encourage the children to use a variety of vocabulary to express what they see.

You will need:

  • Stones of various sizes and shapes, including shells if available.
  • Jugs and containers of various sizes, including lids
  • Bubbles (optional)
  • Food colouring to add patterns
  • Water

Instructions:

  1. Allow the children to make their choice of container and stones/shells.
  2. Support the children to put water into their chosen container.
  3. Watch as they add the stones and shells, and, as the water rises, encourage new words and vocabulary to discuss what is happening.
  4. Add food colouring and use long handled spoons to swirl the colouring around to make patterns in the water and/or bubbles to add interest.

Messy Play Idea Six: Jelly play dough

This is a sweet-smelling treat. It’s made using jelly crystals and makes deliciously scented, soft dough in ice-cream colours. Make up a few batches using different flavoured jellies and use it to cut out ‘cookies’, bake ‘cakes’ or set up an ‘ice-cream stall’.

You will need:

  • 175g flour
  • 85g salt
  • 23g sachet of Hartley’s Jelly crystals
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 225ml water
  • 2 tbsp veg oil

Instructions:

  1. Put all the dry ingredients into a saucepan and mix.
  2. Pour on the water and oil. Mix until there are no lumps.
  3. Place over a low heat, stirring all the while. Keep scraping the dough from the bottom of the pan as it forms. This will take 3-4 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, and cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Knead for 3 minutes on a chopping board.

Original idea/source: https://www.motherandbaby.co.uk/family-life/activities-games/messy-play