Little hands love to be busy, and these messy play activities give them the opportunity to really get stuck in!

While the thought of the clean-up operation afterwards can be off-putting, messy play activities have been shown to encourage physical and social development, active learning, creativity and logical thinking. So throw on some old clothes, put down some protective coverings and enjoy the experience.

Homemade Moon Sand

For this you need: 4 cups of play sand, 2 cups of cornflour, 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp powder paint, and glitter (optional!) Mix the sand and cornflour together, then add water a little at a time until the mixture holds together when pressed into a ball (it should feel a slightly damp, but not wet). Now rub in the powder paint with your fingertips and you’re done.


The Imagination Tree

Edible Oatmeal Dough

This edible dough is simple enough for older kids to make alone. Mix ½ oatmeal with ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup flour. While you may not want to actively encourage your child to eat the dough, this non-toxic recipe means it’s safe for curious little taste testers.

messy play activities

The Life of Jennifer Dawn

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Baby-Friendly Canvas Painting

This is a nice idea if you want your baby to explore paints without the messy part. Blob different coloured non-toxic paints onto a canvas and then wrap the whole thing in cling film (good quality so it’s less like to tear). You’ll have your baby’s first artwork to cherish at the end. Remember to protect floorings and clothes in case of leaks.

messy play

Adore Cherish Love

Cornflour Gloop

Tip a cup or two of cornflour into a bowl and then add water a little bit at a time until you’ve created a gloopy “oobleck” mixture. You’ll have achieved the perfect consistency when it looks solid in the bowl but runs through your fingers like liquid when handled.

messy play activities


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Play Spaghetti

Playing with food can be good for kids. Young children will have fun exploring trays of cooked spaghetti. Add small toys and let them fish them out with different utensils, or let them use child-safe paint to make it more colourful.

messy play activities

Teach Preschool

Know any other messy play activities that are great for young children? Share them in the box below.