messy play activities

Mayhem and Messy Play: Is Messy Play Worth It?

Is messy play worth it? Although it takes considerable effort on our part, the play and learning of messy play contributes to children’s development.

when your child comes home messy
Photo Source: La Classe de Mme Tipler & Mme McMillan

Recently, I saw this wonderful photo, “When Your Child Comes Home Messy.” ( Thank you, Tosh Tipler and Theresa McMillan.)It inspired another one, and today’s blog, “When Your Child Makes A Mess.” Like the photo says, your child has been exploring and having fun.

There are likely reasons why parents and caregivers do not encourage messy play. This whole month of blog posts, (the month of May) has built on mayhem and messy play and, hopefully, the activities have answered your concerns. Some of them might be:

We don’t have the right materials. The activities have included: soap foam and food coloring, baking soda and vinegar, paint, slime, blanket forts, crayon scribbles, dress-up clothes, kitchen tools, dirt and rocks, bubbles, play-dough, water, and ice. These are things you have at home already. They are readily available.

Messy play is expensive. Soap, food coloring, baking soda, and vinegar are very reasonable. Blankets, old clothes, dirt, rocks, bubbles, and ice are no-cost.

Messy play is hard to organize. This kind of play can be as easy as running water in the kitchen sink and letting kids explore. Yes, if you go on-line and scroll through blogs you can find elaborate suggestions but there are also some simple ideas.

Messy play is so time-consuming. Organizing play activities and clean-up can take a good chunk of time. There are some tricks like letting kids play in an empty tub. Dress them in a swimsuit or nothing at all and then wash them off. Spread newspapers on the floor or a tarp on the ground. Sometimes, cleaning up is part of the play, like when the blanket fort comes down.

We can’t always see the learning that’s happening for kids when they engage in messy play but the brain is as busy as their hands. The exploring, organizing, choosing, planning, testing, matching, creating, and imagining are only part of the learning and thinking. Children are also developing social skills, using language, and building confidence.when your child makes a messOften, children’s messy play activities grow into adult hobbies that provide meaning and life-long enjoyment. How do you answer the question: Is messy play worth it?

You can visit messy play and other activities on the play-of-the-day blog. Come and play every day.

Mayhem and Messy Play #18: Messy Craft Play with Kids

Whenever we do crafts it is always messy craft play. Just getting the materials and covering the work area means it messy before we even start. But it certainly engages the kids and is worth the effort. (Unless it involves glitter. Glitter is questionable.)halloween craft messy fun

Craft play can’t help being messy. Materials can include glue, scissors, sequins, buttons, paper tubes and rolls, crayons, paints, felt markers, nature items, bottle caps, tiny pebbles, fabric, yarn, bits of lace, aluminum foil, straws, cotton balls, breadtags, stickers, pasta, clothespins, paper plates and cups, and whatever else is available at the moment. **Note: Do not take out everything at the same time or you will never get the mess cleaned up. It’s better to put out a small amount of something, or a container of assorted stuff so it can be tucked back away. Keeping materials sorted is all but impossible. Our solution is one of those plastic rolling drawer towers. This keeps stuff sort of organized.

These are samples of some of our messy craft play:

messy craft play
Little Sister just liked coloring on some tissue paper rolls. She didn’t make anything but was quite satisfied to roll them around and color on them. Big Sister made an entire Elsa castle after watching Frozen for the zillionth time. She had help to cut out the holes in the cereal box base, but painted them all and hunted thru the craft supplies for other treasures.

Bread tags, pasta, and little twigs made these two pictures. And lots of glue. One of these was made by a boy. Girls are not the only ones that like to do crafts. Kids will reflect their own interests in what they make, be it dinosaurs, space, or flowers. Often, the process is far more important than the product.

Messy play can use lots of one item, or one of different things, as in these cards. The button card was also made by a young boy whose parents make and sell their craft work. The other has a stamp, drawing, sticker, foamie, macaroni, and a googly eye. Kids are creative in different ways.messy craft play

The “monster-who-lives-in-the-backpack” and eats all the notices that come home from playschool and daycare was fun to create, as was the “Wild Thing” from Maurice Sendak’s story, Where The Wild Things Are. Inspiration for messy craft play can come from anywhere.

messy craft playNature inspired some outside hunting for treasure and then, instead of a pirate hat, Big Sister made a nature crown.  One spring we made dinosaur land and in the summer, a fairy house. (I’ll add these photos when I find them.)

Messy craft play for kids doesn’t end as kids grow up. How many parents and caregivers out there still love crafts?

Mayhem and Messy Play #17: Messy Play with Rocks

Thankfully, most messy play with rocks happens outside so we don’t worry; Mother Nature takes care of the mess as she invites kids to play and learn.sensory messy rock play

There are two activities that kids love to do over and over with rocks. One of them is to throw rocks, especially in water, be it a puddle, a lake, a river, or an ocean. This is highly sensory: the weight of the rock in the hand, the breeze on the skin when throwing, watching the rock as it arcs toward the water, and, at last, the sound of the kerplunk or splash. The messy part happens as kids gradually move closer to the water and then end up in it, or, just get covered with dirt as they dig up rocks to throw.rock play

Speaking of digging, that’s the second activity that never seems to lose its appeal. Kids will spend hours digging up rocks and dumping them. They may use their hands, shovels, or wheeled toys.

As we watch them, we wonder why this engages them so intently, but there’s just as much action happening we can’t see. Kids are exploring cause and effect. While this is no mystery to us, it’s still pretty exciting to kids. Just imagine, each time they tip the shovel or the dump truck, the rocks slide off.messy rock play

Rocks are fun just to dig up, carry around, and pile up somewhere else. Kids are making an impact on their environment, actively creating instead of passively experiencing. They can feel, see, and hear the evidence of their own power.nature play with rocks

Collecting rocks is a way to organize messy play with rocks. For young children, putting one or more rocks in each space of an egg carton can be enough. Filling an empty water bottle is another way to gather and keep rocks.moon rocks bottle activity

Before rocks come in the house, kids can wash them in warm soapy water and let them dry in the sun. When rocks are wet it’s so much easier to see all the lines, shapes, and different colors. Once rocks are dry, kids may enjoy painting on rocks for another kind of messy rock play.painted rock play activity Might any of these ideas appeal to your child for a play-of-the-day that rocks?  Check out how grownups play with rocks:

rock play for adults

P.S. Come back to the blog tomorrow for more messy play ideas!


Mayhem and Messy Play #16: Ice Messy Play for Kids

On a hot day, something nice is ice messy play for kids. The mess easily wipes up and the ice feels cool and inviting. Any size container, from a plastic sink to a kiddie pool. And almost any size ice.  With several days of warm, sunny weather in the forecast, we had time to prep … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #16: Ice Messy Play for Kids

Mayhem and Messy Play #15: Play Dough Messy Play

Play dough messy play can be more or less messy depending on your recipe and any extra stuff. Whatever it is, the play includes fun and learning. Play dough has unlimited possibilities. Kids of all ages enjoy playing with it. The activity engages the senses and, at the same time, stimulates the imagination. Highly coordinated … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #15: Play Dough Messy Play

Mayhem and Messy Play #14: Blowing Bubbles Messy Play Activities

No, blowing bubbles messy play activities is not a contradiction; kids can make a mess and get dirty doing anything including play with soap and water. Besides the soap and water, there are a few more items in these messy play activities. Bubble solutions are available at dollar and toy stores, but you can also … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #14: Blowing Bubbles Messy Play Activities

Mayhem and Messy Play #13: Kids Gardening Messy Play

Sunny weekends at this time are an invitation to get outside that can’t be resisted plus it’s time for some kids gardening messy play and sensory fun. Mom Ursula M recently posted a photo and a comment about gardening with kids. She said after spending some time showing her son about planting, Lucca“had dirt from … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #13: Kids Gardening Messy Play

Mayhem and Messy Play #12: Chocolate Smoothie Messy Play

Since our cooking in the kitchen is often pretty messy, this kids’ chocolate smoothie messy play wasn’t so different, and the messy was yummy and playful.Making bread requires hands to be totally involved in the mixing and kneading so it’s not so far-fetched to have a child be really hands-on when making a smoothie. Of … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #12: Chocolate Smoothie Messy Play

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. Kids will dress-up in practically anything, not just old clothes. A tickle … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #11: Dress-up Messy Play

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. Many of us … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #10: Kids Scribble Messy Play