Sensory Activities

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 #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 messy play

Slime is a messy play activity that can be contained in a fairly small area, but you need to watch it. Slime will spread out all over and keep going. After discovering that slime would drip right over the edge of the counter, Big Sister noticed it made a long string right down to the floor. She wondered how long a string it could make so she stood on a chair and let some drip from her hand. Sure enough, it made a string that far too.  I wanted to stand on a chair and see if the slime would make an even longer string without breaking, but I waited until the kids were not in the kitchen. By the way, it did.slime messy play

Another time, we read about blowing bubbles with slime. That sounded really cool but how can slime make bubbles? It’s much thicker than soapy water. This took a few tries but it does indeed work! Once a bubble is started, it grows just holding it. Basically, you stick a straw into a bunch of slime and blow. The bubble doesn’t pop like gum but starts to get holes and collapse.slime messy play

Little Sister likes to pretend she is cooking with slime. She fills a few toy pots and pans with slime and then ‘cooks’ it. Sometimes, a batch of slime will be thicker than other ones, so it can be rolled and molded.slime messy play

Slime has almost unlimited opportunities for creative play. There is no right or wrong way to play with slime, so children are free to explore and create. The sense of touch is highly activated and the sense of freedom is also stimulated. Does your child enjoy slime messy play?


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 doing a mud load.)mud-book-discovery-childrens-centre

Why does messy mud play appeal to kids?

One of the tools kids have for learning about themselves and their world is their sensory channel. Mud touches exposed skin all over the body. While it hurts when it gets in eyes, and itches insides clothing, it also feels cool and slippery. It’s used in beauty treatments for a reason.

messy mud playMud play is active, not only for hands but whole bodies. Jumping over puddles is almost as much fun as jumping in them.

rainy day fun puddle

How can kids play with mud?

While this little tyke isn’t messy yet, he likely soon will be. Mud play invites children to explore. Will mud pour? What happens to a mountain of mud when it’s stepped on? Why does a hole dug in mud keep filling with water? There are so many questions kids can ask just waiting to be answered by playing around in the mud. Much of this is linking cause and effect.

play with mudMud also encourages creating. With spoons, shovels, and old pots and pans, kids can make mud pies and cakes. Or, they may build roads, mountains, towns, and magic potions. A pile of mud decorated with twigs, rocks, and pinecones might be a mud monster. Mud in a pot mixed with nature ingredients might be fairy soup.

play with mud

Don’t forget imagination. There’s plenty of opportunity for pretend and imaginative play with messy mud play. Dinosaurs can roam the world in a muddy puddle. Cars and trucks might be small enough for a hand, but big enough to be just like the real ones on a construction site.

play with sand and dirt

What kind of learning is involved?

While bodies are busy playing in mud, so are brains. The brain is not only processing the information taken in by the senses, it is also solving problems, planning, creating, imagining, and choosing. In addition to the physical and mental aspects, there are social and emotional ones. When playing with others, kids are negotiating, sharing, taking turns, and more. Emotionally, kids cannot always make mud do what they want. They have to learn to adapt what they want to how mud behaves. This needs patience and acceptance. For the most part, this hands-on connection to nature is relaxing because kids have to learn to sometimes let go of what they want. That’s an important lessons for any of us.

outside play with transportation toys

No wonder messy mud play has been part of childhood for hundreds of years. Can it be part of your child’s day?


Mayhem and Messy Play #4: Baking Soda and Vinegar Messy Sensory Play

Volcanoes aren’t the only way to have baking soda and vinegar messy sensory play fun and learning. Almost anything works, play clothes advised. For this messy and sensory play, we used a plastic bowl of baking soda, another one of vinegar, a couple of spoons, and some clear, plastic goblets. A shallow container or tray … Continue reading Mayhem and Messy Play #4: Baking Soda and Vinegar Messy Sensory Play

Dragon Water Play – A Sinkful of Sensory and Imaginative Fun

While water puts out a dragon’s fire, dragons sometimes live in castles which have moats and drawbridges so dragon water play is a possibility. Besides, even dragons must have sometimes needed a bath. Dragon water play can happen in the bath or with clothes on at the sink. We found some colorful, plastic dragons at … Continue reading Dragon Water Play – A Sinkful of Sensory and Imaginative Fun

Space Activities #13: Space Sensory Bin with Soap Foam

A space sensory bin invites children to engage and explore. There are wonderful materials and items to use. We chose soap foam, bright colors, and stars. It was sensory for both touch and visual. In photos, the Milky Way looks like white swirls. When doing the dishes, Big Sister thought the soap foam looked like … Continue reading Space Activities #13: Space Sensory Bin with Soap Foam

Transportation Play Activities #10: Transportation Sensory Play

The weather finally gave us some sunny breaks, making it warm and dry enough for a car wash and  other transportation sensory play outside. Kids can certainly play outdoors in any weather, but we needed some sun to dry newly washed cars and trucks and other toys and for new discoveries. Cars and trucks and … Continue reading Transportation Play Activities #10: Transportation Sensory Play

Bubble Play & Learn Activities #9: Playing in Soapy Water

Bubble Play or Bubble Work? It’s All Play! Playing in soapy water is another great way to have fun with bubbles. For this activity, instead of just water and soap add in some toys that kids can wash. We might call this work, but kids think it’s play. Toys spend a lot of time on … Continue reading Bubble Play & Learn Activities #9: Playing in Soapy Water