messy play activities

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. science fun for young children

With several days of warm, sunny weather in the forecast, we had time to prep for this and freeze some containers of water overnight. We used 3 different plastic food containers so we could have a small, medium, and big. In the hot afternoon, we took the 3 containers and a large bin outside to the deck. Just in case it was hard to slide the ice out we also had a small container of warm water. This wasn’t needed tho because the ice slid out almost right away. While I went back to the kitchen for some tools and toys to dig in the ice, the kids were feeling the ice, picking it up, and sliding it messy playTo add to the fun, they also used a big eyedropper, baster, spoons, and a toy teapot. They scooped the water from the small container and squirted it over the big chunks of ice. The outside began to melt quickly, leaving a frozen core in the middle. It took 10 minutes for the small chunk of ice to melt to the size of a hockey puck, and much longer for the medium and big chunks. Both kids continued playing  and even though the water was cold, there was no complaining. Of course, the splashes on clothes felt sensory play

While plain ice is nice, you might want to freeze something small in the ice for kids to dig out. Some possibilities are small plastic animals or people. We’ve done this with dinosaurs and pieces of Lego. Once the kids got the Lego, then they could build with the bricks. Buttons, bottle lids, and flat glass marbles can be pirate treasure to dig out of the ice instead of sand.water play

Playing with ice is both a form of messy and sensory play. Kids are busy discovering what works for making ice melt and what doesn’t. They are using language and developing thinking skills like observing, judging, comparing, predicting, and focussing attention. They are also achieving a goal when they finally get objects out of the ice or make it all melt. Is it hot enough for some ice messy play in your area?

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 dough messy sensory play

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 actions are not required, like putting small Lego pieces together, but manipulating play dough can develop fine motor coordination and strengthen the muscles in the hands and wrists. It can be used alone or with friends, can go inside or outside.

playdough messy sensory play

While there was some interaction, the kids were primarily doing their own thing. For their birthdays, they had been given some play dough toys for molding, squishing, and cutting along with several colors. Big Sister mostly wore the goggles so she could be a scientist and create magic inventions. Little Sister finds the goggles get in her way. She was happy squishing, pinching, tearing, smooshing, and squeezing. Her goal was not to make something but to interact with the playdough.

Although play dough is enough by itself, toys and small items can add variety to the play. Sometimes, we’ve used buttons, bottle caps, dinosaurs, and anything pink. Some other possibilities are toothpicks, beads, pasta, shells, feathers, straws, marbles, sequins, small cars and trucks, fabric, and glitter. The glitter made the play dough sparkle, but we found the glitter was attracted more to hands than the play dough so as the kids played with it, the glitter came out on them. That was quite messy. play dough cutters

Besides food coloring, play dough can be mixed with paint for a rainbow of colors. Experiment with cocoa powder, kool-aid, or jello powder to make bright colors and interesting smells. Essential oils like peppermint and lavender smell inviting. Experiment with some cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, ginger, and other spices. Those are messes to smell as well as see. The website Imagination Tree had more ideas in the article, “The Benefits of Playing with  Playdough.”

colorful play doughPlay dough messy play has fun and learning for hands and minds. Could it be your child’s play-of-the-day?

P.S. Come back to the blog tomorrow for more 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

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. A low kitchen drawer … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #9: Let Kids Have a Kitchen Drawer

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