Mayhem and Messy Play #11: Dress-up Messy Play

Dress-up messy play is usually considered imaginative or pretend play, but it can make quite a mess with dress-up props strewn about and made-up faces. Labels do no matter. Whatever it is, the play is coming from within, as kids explore and create.

dress-up messy play

Kids will dress-up in practically anything, not just old clothes. A tickle trunk can have costumes, shoes, towels, and bright or sparkly bits of fabric. Paper bags and cardboard tubes can be decorated too. Wings and crowns are often needed, so some materials to make these is useful, as are super-hero capes and cloaks.

As kids dress-up in different clothes and costumes they are also trying-on different people. Kids see other people from the outside and do not have much information about what is happening on the inside. They have to imagine what it’s like to be the store clerk, the brave hero, the mom, the dad, the baby, the pet, the boss, the rescuer, and even the bad guys. Dressing-up as these characters is part of the play package.darth vader dress-up play

Although kids often do this even without any props at all, dressing-up serve to explain to us the new reality. Costumes and other props invite children into an experience. Cosplay is immensely popular with adults in the same way. We can take off who we are and put on someone else and create a different version of the world.

About the age of two, kids will start engaging in pretend play. It could be just pretending to take a sip of something from an empty play cup but the play will become much more involved. Like other play activities, it’s a vital part of early learning and development. New pathways and connections are formed in the brain and children practice thinking skills like problem-solving, organizing, making choices, comparing, and more. On an emotional level, kids can explore feelings and ways to interact with others. This helps for empathy and understanding. Physically, dress-up play is active and bodies get plenty of exercise.dress-up play

Both boys and girls enjoy dress-up play and will wear clothes associated with the other gender. They will also both try out make-up and like to decorate their faces, by themselves or with help. How else can they explore the different parts of the world around them? Will dress-up messy play be a play-of-the-day?


Mayhem and Messy Play #10: Kids Scribble Messy Play

Have there been any scribble messy play art attacks on the walls, floors, or furniture at your house? Scribble messy play took to the stage here recently. Lots of kids got up close and personal with scribbles, as well as some adults, at the annual Children’s Book Fest hosted in the city.scribble book ruth ohi

Many of us have ‘been there and done that’ when it comes to early scribbles. Children’s author, Ruth Ohi, has just written and published a book called Scribble. In the story, the regular shapes of Circle, Triangle, and Square meet scribble. At first, they are not sure what to make of Scribble, but together they create waves on the water, a string to hold tight to a balloon, and more.


At the event, children were able to see and hear authors in small sessions. Ruth Ohi invited kids to come up to her giant easel and scribble. She talked to them and helped them feel comfortable in front of the group, called out Go, mimed scribbling herself with great animation and excitement, and then Stop. She added to the scribbles and it became a unicorn dragon. She passed out papers and crayons to all of the kids and encouraged them to scribble.  (in the photo above, we made the scribble lines darker in order to see them)scribble play ruth ohi

Seeing all the kids scribbling away reminded me of a blog post on the site Messy Monkeys, “learning to ‘dot dot dot’ and ‘scribble scribble scribble’ gives your child a head start in the muscle development required for when they (sob…) head off to school.” Just like children babble and coo when they are first learning to speak, they make random marks and scribble when they are first learning to write.

holiday art fun
photo courtesy of MFair

Scribbling can happen with crayons, pencils, chalk, paint, a stick, and more. As for options to paper—and the walls—they can scribble on sidewalks, driveways (watch for cars) and old sheets hung on a fence. Scribbles do not have to ‘be’ something. They might very well just be scribbles. As children scribble, they are not only learning about writing, they are experiencing the joy of creating and of expressing themselves in a form other than words. Could messy scribble play be part of your child’s day?


Mayhem and Messy Play #9: Let Kids Have a Kitchen Drawer

The kitchen floor doesn’t need to be covered with toys, instead it can be covered with containers, pans, and tools when we let kids have a kitchen drawer. At least, when it comes from the drawer it’s easier to scoop up and drop back in when it’s time to tidy up.

kitchen drawer play

A low kitchen drawer filled with a few items can be a source of play for kids of various ages. Young ones will enjoy simply taking out all the stuff and spreading it around. Kids a little older will use the objects to pretend or, perhaps, to build. The kind of play reflects their development. Because the objects can be used in several ways, they will meet children’s needs at various with kitchen items

Some possible items to include in a bottom drawer include plastic containers of different sizes, colors, and shapes, small metal pots and pans, a few tools such as a potato masher, ice cream scoop, wooden spoon, and spatula, and plastic dishes, cups, spoons, and forks.playing in the kitchen

Toys can often only be used in one way. With kitchen items, there’s no right or wrong way. Kids can play with them according to their interests and development. Little Sister loves to pretend she is shopping with stuff in the drawer. Big Sister liked to set up her own restaurant and serve us.exploring numbers

Children like using things that are not toys. Toys are what kids have, while kitchen objects are what adults get to use. Children imitate the actions of the adults around them during their play. Adults spend time in the kitchen, so understandably kids like to do that too. During kids’ self-directed play in the kitchen, we can occasionally interact with them. We might ask if they are making something to eat, or comment that a spoon banging on a lid makes a noise. Is it a loud noise or a soft noise? Messes are not always something we see, they can be something we hear too.making music fun

We often forget that play doesn’t come from toys, it comes from within children themselves. For some messy play fun and learning, would this work in your house or play center to let kids have a kitchen drawer?


Build Mom Some Mother’s Day Lego Flowers and Other Ideas

Kids like to make something special for their moms and here’s a suggestion for one to build—Mother’s Day Lego flowers. Made by hand with lots of love. A friend’s son made this for her, which she treated like any other flower and put in a vase. Without the water, of course. This flower means more … Continue reading Build Mom Some Mother’s Day Lego Flowers and Other Ideas

Mayhem and Messy Play #9: Blanket Fort Messy Play

Although a blanket and a few cushions aren’t typical materials for messy play, this blanket fort messy play certainly made a lot of disorder at our house. While doing some vacuuming to clean up one mess, we had to move some of the chairs in the kitchen. I don’t know how that inspired the idea … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #9: Blanket Fort Messy Play

Mayhem and Messy Play #8: Slime Messy Play for Fun and Learning

No matter what recipe you use, or what you call it, slime messy play is great for fun and learning. It appeals to kids of various ages and stages, past the everything-in-the-mouth stage, that is. Slime is a messy play activity that can be contained in a fairly small area, but you need to watch … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #8: Slime Messy Play for Fun and Learning

Mayhem and Messy Play #7: Soapy Water Messy Play Fun

Soapy water messy play isn’t a contradiction. Instead, think of it as a magic formula for fun that goes like this: Soapy Water + Dirty Toys = Clean Mess. We managed to have a sunny afternoon and toys, just like the rest of the house, needed some spring cleaning. I partly filled some bins with … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #7: Soapy Water Messy Play Fun

More Messy Play Fun & Parent Advice: De-Stress and Embrace the Mess

Guest blogger Amy K. Williams shares these ideas for more messy play fun. I can hardly wait to try them, especially the rainbow powder activity. Enjoy! Or, in her words, “De-stress and embrace the mess.” Three Kid-Friendly Crafts that Celebrate the Craziness of Chaos Parents spend a good part of each day cleaning up after … Continue reading More Messy Play Fun & Parent Advice: De-Stress and Embrace the Mess

Mayhem and Messy Play #6: Messy Painting Activities for Kids

One paint brush and a few colors can engage kids in fun and learning over and over again, so it’s worth it to set up some messy painting activities. Some communities have art centers with studios where kids can go and paint up a storm.In the history of the world, art has a special place, … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #6: Messy Painting Activities for Kids

Mayhem and Messy Play #5: Messy Mud Play and Learning

Messy mud play and learning tops a bucket list of activities for kids. Like a right of childhood, kids deserve the opportunity to get covered with mud. The good news is kids are wash and towel dry. (Washing machines and rocks aren’t great friends, so make sure you check pockets and rolled up hems before … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #5: Messy Mud Play and Learning