Messy Play is here to save the day! Generations Photography

Updated: Jan 9

As we are now in another week of Lockdown, I am sure it is getting more and more difficult to come up with ideas and activities to keep your little ones entertained every day. The good news is that I am here to help!

Some of the messy play ideas include ingredients and food, so hopefully you will be able to track these things down in the supermarket, fingers crossed! If not those ones will be for you to try once everything is back to normal!

Messy Play is a wonderful activity to do at home as it appeals to a wide age range of children and you are often already likely to have some of the resources which can be used for Messy Play in your cupboards! Also now the weather is getting better, if you have an outside space you can do it outdoors if you are worried about the mess inside.

I am going to provide you with a range of different Messy play ideas which have been tried and tested by myself. When I used to work in a Children’s Centre I led a weekly Messy Play group for parents and children, where we used to have 20 families attend, these sessions were so much fun…but it did take a while to clear up after!

My love of Messy Play has also followed me into the Genrations Photography Studio in Norfolk as I offer a Messy Chef Photoshoot session.

In this photoshoot children start off with exploring natural ingredients first such as flour, sugar, oil, cornflour, coco powder. The next step is handmade playdough with food colouring and scent (my recipe is below). Then its cooked spaghetti died with food colouring, followed by a flan case full with angel delight. I finish the session off with a splash in the bath, with children’s crazy foam.

Here are some of my favourite Messy Play ideas:-

• Playdough dye with food colouring and add vanilla scent, (playdough recipe below)

• Gloop with spoons, spatula and potato masher (see my recipe below)

• Ice cubes with paint or food colouring inside

• Sugar cubes and tongs

• Flour/ Sugar cubes / Salt-add arctic animals to create a cold habitat

• Rainbow rice-make a variety of colours by mixing dry rice in a bowl with food colouring.

• Jelly set it with bugs inside

• Hay and hide farm animals in it

• Shredded paper and hide objects in it

• Flour-and rolling pins

• Crazy foam you could add paint / glitter

• Instant mash potato>add food colouring and glitter

• Potato / veg / flower printing

• Noodles with chopsticks

• Tinned baked beans / spaghetti / mushy peas

• Soil with bugs

• Paint and cars make patterns in the paint using the wheels

• Dried cereal/porridge oats/pasta with cups, jugs, sieve, bowls

• Shaving foam with glitter / sequins

• Instant custard add blue food colouring-add sea creatures

• Water add food colouring and bottles to pour and tip it

• Spaghetti dye with food colouring e.g. > make it red to look like worms

How does Messy Play support my child’s learning and development?

It develops and strengthens their physical development in terms of gross motor skills (large movements) and fine motor skills (small movements e.g. the fingers), along with coordination. Messy play activities with wet substances allow mark making e.g. shaving foam also help your child to practice their pre-writing skills which help them to get ready for school.

It also helps your child’s concentration skills, along with thinking skills as they investigate the different materials. if you have more than one child, it can also encourage them to play cooperatively together, by encouraging sharing and working together to do a specific task.

It also promotes early maths and numeracy skills as your child will be able to count different items and you can ask questions e.g. are there more or less. They will also learn about shape and size when exploring different objects. Also further maths concepts such as weight, volume and capacity can be explored for example giving them different sized and shaped containers during water play.

What is the Parent’s role during my Messy Play?

Make sure you supervise your children when they engage in messy play, as there could be a risk of choking if they try to eat any of the materials.

Allow your child plenty of time to explore the messy play activity to allow them to get as much learning from it as possible.

Give your child lots of encouragement to explore the messy play, if they see you exploring it first, it will help them take interest it, and provide praise when they do engage.

It is also a great activity to role model lots of new vocabulary to your child (please see list below).

Vocabulary to introduce during Messy Play Activities:

Words connected to texture

· Smooth / Rough

· Soft / Hard

· Slimy / Sticky

· Dry / Wet / Damp

· Thin / Thick

· Cold / Warm

Words connected to Maths/Numeracy

· Empty / Full

· Before / After

· Thick / Thin

· More / Less

· Same / Different

· Heavy / Light

· Shallow / Deep

· Greater / Less than

Questions to ask during Messy Play to extend your child’s thinking:-

What does it feel like?

What happens if…?

What happens when…?

What does it look like?

What does it smell like?

Why does that happen?

What can you draw?

How did you…?

What can you do next?

What do you think…? What patterns/marks can you make?