Creative Messy Play Ideas for Kids to Make this Autumn

Esther O'Sullivan

October 24, 2017

messy play ideas for Autumn

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As the nights draw in, the rain starts lashing and the wind howling, outdoor messy play can become curtailed. Here are some fun and creative messy play ideas for kids to make this Autumn that will keep them entertained whatever the weather! 

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Spending more time inside during the autumn and winter months can make it more difficult to think of creative messy play ideas for at home – but that doesn’t have to be the case. 

One of the simplest, cheapest and easiest messy play ideas is playdough. It is always a hit with children and is such a versatile resource.

Now I know you can go and buy it, but when you see how fun and quick it is to make your own, I think you will be converted. My basic recipe is below:

Esther’s Simple Playdough Recipe

Messy Play Ideas for Autumn Playdough Messy Hands


  • 3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup of table salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar (optional, but makes it a bit more shiny)
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 cup of warm water (not boiling in case the children are mixing in together)


This is so child-friendly, part of the fun is that they can help you to make it!

  • Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Add in the oil and mix.
  • Slowly add in the water until you get a dough.
  • Play!

Autumnal Messy Play Ideas

pumpkin and ghost messy play ideas

There are some brilliant simple ways to make the playdough more autumnal, here are my top three favourites:

Autumn Colours and Smells

  • Add in a bit of brown, red or orange paint (mix it into the water before you add that in) to make the playdough look the colour of the leaves outside.
  • Or add in some smells like cinnamon, ginger or mixed spice (add a teaspoon with the flour) to give an extra sensory experience.

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Leaf Printing

Go on a windy walk to collect some autumn leaves, then get the children to press them into the playdough to show the different patterns and shapes. They could also use the leaves as ‘hair’ for funny playdough creatures. 

Pumpkin Carving

Make an orange coloured playdough, give the children spoons and a ball of the playdough, then let them use the handle end of the spoon to ‘carve’ their pumpkins, you could even all work together to make one big ‘pumpkin’!

Playdough is so versatile, you can do so much with it that a rainy autumn afternoon is soon full of messy fun! Happy messing!

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Have you tried any of these Autumn messy play ideas with your kids? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Creative Messy Play Ideas for Kids to Make This Autumn - Mykidstime

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Published On: October 24th, 2017 / Categories: Things To Do / Last Updated: April 3rd, 2021 / Tags: , , , , /

About the Author: Esther O'Sullivan

Esther is the founder and one half of Messy Hands, a growing business offering messy play sessions for children around Munster. We also offer Messy Camps, Messy Parties and our Brand New Messy School packages. We are passionate about child led learning through play. We pursue an ethos of inclusivity and believe that children thrive socially, creatively and physically when given lots of messy play opportunities. Esther is British, married to a Corkman and mother to two small but beautifully formed boys. When time permits, loves running, interior design and party planning! To find out more about Messy Hands like us on Facebook or go to

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