- Grains; by this is mean a packet which you have in the cupboard, rice, dried pasta, couscous or lentils are most popular at Messy Play. Put half a bag into a washing up bowl or cardboard box and give them some spoons, cups or small bowls. Children love the freedom to pour and mix with this activities. A sweep or vacuum once they have finished is all it will take.
- Water play; always a hit with children. Keep it really simple and put a small amount into a plastic bowl (even just a mixing bowl will do) or let them stand at the sink. There are so many things they can add to engage with this, plastic animals, cars, dried herbs or dolls. Let them make some suggestions and see what happens. A couple of old towels underneath and there is almost no clean up at all!
- Ramps; these can be made from anything you have to hand, old skirting board, cardboard, rolled up newspaper or wrapping paper. Set up a ramp off the bottom steps of the stairs, off the sofa or a dining chair, use whatever you can find. Bring out some cars if you have them and they will get a lots of enjoyment out of sliding them down again and again. If you don’t have any cars try using rice other grains (see 1.) and cups so they can slide these down, though a bowl at the bottom is advised. You could also try marking out a track with masking tape (inside) or chalk (outside). Simple but super fun!
- Make your own playdough! A bit more adventurous but this will provide hours of entertainment and it can last for months. The recipe I use is; 3 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of table salt, 5 tablespoons of oil and 1 cup of warm water. Add colour if desired and mix together. Simple!
- Get colouring; whilst colouring books can be great, they can also limit a child’s creativity, as they are only required to colouring in within the lines. Instead try putting down a sheet of old wrapping paper or wallpaper (I use lining paper from B&Q or Woodies) and let them create their own masterpiece on the floor. Another very popular activity at Messy Play is to have a large cardboard box to decorate. They might stick things on it, colour it, chalk on it or paint it (if you are feeling brave!).
A small piece of advice when trying any of these is to start by playing with them yourself for a few minutes, if they don’t engage straight away. They will find this encouraging and supportive, even if you might find it a bit strange!
Happy messing, Esther