Survive the Summer with These Easy Messy Play Ideas

Esther O'Sullivan

July 10, 2018

children messy play - mykidstime

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As the school term comes to an end, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the thought of keeping young children busy for weeks when their attention span isn’t much longer than a few minutes. Messy play is not only a great way of entertaining children but also brilliant for developing fine motor ability, creative ideas and social skills. Survive the Summer with these easy messy play ideas from Esther O’Sullivan from Messy Hands.

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Often messy play can seem like a great idea in theory but the reality of trying it out can be daunting. The mess….the stress… the time involved. Here are 3 suggestions which are simple to set up, won’t break the bank and will keep children entertained for much, much longer than you would expect.

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3 Easy Messy Play Ideas

#1. Empty the Cupboards!

messy play with riceA bag of rice, pasta or porridge will provide hours of entertainment. Pour into a plastic box, baby bath or washing up bowl, whatever you have to hand really, then add a few cups, jugs and spoons for children to mix and pour with.

They will love it and a quick hoover afterwards will clear up the mess. You could make it more interesting by using food colouring to the rice or pasta shapes, but the plain stuff is just as much fun!

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#2. Splashing About!

messy play with waterWater is great fun for young children and couldn’t be more simple to set up. The trick is to keep the quantity to a minimum, only an inch or two at the bottom of a plastic container is all you need. Put that on top of a couple of towels and then spillage is kept to a minimum.

In our recent Messy Sessions the following additions to water have been the most popular:

  • Washing socks – throw in a pile of odd socks and a squirt of washing up liquid to make bubbles them let them splash about (we also provided pegs and an airer and the children loved pegging up the socks once they had washed them).
  • Sieves – pop a few old plastic toys in the water and give the children a sieve, being able to scoop up without getting water everywhere is great for everyone.
  • Tea bags and cups – leave them to make tea, we tend to use fruit teas as they are caffeine free and its not a problem when the children drink it, which they inevitably will).

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#3.  Flour Power!

messy play with flourA bag of flour is cheap, easy to find and provides some great messy play entertainment.

Two cups of flour (any type) and a tablespoon of oil mixed together make a great fun consistency, it is sometimes known as cloud dough. Mixing it in a deep container prevents it getting on the floor, plus mixing in the oil limits the flour dust. If you have small bowls, cupcake paper cases or some spoons, that would be even better.

Or you could add some butter and water to make pastry and let them design their own biscuits!

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A last note before I sign off… you might find that your child is a bit wary of messy play at first, it is not at all uncommon for children to be cautious. It could be that they are unsure of what to do, they may even think it is a trick (usually they are told not to make a mess!). If this is the case, sit down next to them and ‘play’ yourself. Demonstrate the different ways you can pour, mix or build. A few minutes later you will find they up to their arms in messy play! Happy messing!

What other easy messy play ideas do your kids enjoy? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Survive The Summer With These Easy Messy Play Ideas - Mykidstime

Like this? Share it with your network!

Like this? Share it with your network!

Published On: July 10th, 2018 / Categories: Things To Do / Last Updated: April 3rd, 2021 / Tags: , , , /

About the Author: Esther O'Sullivan

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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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