Messy Sensory Play for Beginners

My three year old goes through phases of being interested in messy sensory play. Sometimes I can set it up and he’ll play for hours, sometimes I’ll set it up and he’ll play for two minutes. Trouble is I never know which it’s going to be and far be it from me to stop him from doing something he might really enjoy just because it might be a two minute day.

However that does mean I am loathe to go to masses of effort to set it all up just in case. It also means I like things that are cheap to make (and if possible things that can be kept to play with another time).

My sister has a daughter who at 2.5 has never really shown much interest in sensory play. However just recently she has become obsessed with all the creams in the house, scooping them, squidging them and generally enjoying making a mess. This got me thinking that maybe it’s time to try her with some sensory activities, that might be cheaper than the body lotions and creams she’s suddenly taken an interest in.

So this is a round up of some really simple and where possible, cheap recipes for the parent’s first foray into messy play. And a couple of words of advice from a mum who found messy play difficult to get in to.

  1. Firstly I would suggest sourcing something to play on/in. We have a Tuff Tray and stand now, but we started with cheap under bed storage boxes and still find these incredibly useful. They are wide enough and shallow enough to provide space to play in, and can be easily moved to where they need to be. In this gorgeous weather, I’d totally be doing this outside, but in the winter an under bed storage box can go in the kitchen. Or wherever.
  2. When we first started messy play I would also put down a plastic dust sheet (we got ours from Homebase, but you can get them at any DIY store). It’s a option, but actually I found most things easy enough to clean off tiles, so I stopped using it. Carpet might be a different matter though!
  3. Sometimes I get Oscar involved in the actual making of whatever we’re doing (he loved making the Moon Sand), other times it’s better if I make it then call him over. You know your child, and your patience, best.
  4. Once they’re playing, be prepared for them to access the activity in surprising ways. Encourage them by all means, but if they run off and grab a train and start painting with that instead of the brushes you lovingly provided, so be it.
  5. But the best advice I think I can give is to be brave. There is little that wont clean up easily and quickly and what’s a bit of clean up to hours of focused play? And a bit of peace and quiet?

Click on the pictures for the recipes.

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We love Moon Sand and while I dyed it blue here, you don’t need to at all. Also I love this because it lasts for ever. Just scoop it into an airtight container when they finished and it’s good for weeks.

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Painting scared the bejaysus out of me, in our tiny house, but this Shaving Foam paint was one of our absolute winners. Oscar adored it and while it did take a bit of mixing the colours, it was totally worth it. He played for HOURS!

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I love this simple recipe from The Imagination Tree and we’re planing to do this one this afternoon. Simple hardly describes it and I think it would speak to my nieces love of creams!

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How gorgeous does this Slime from Powerful Mothering look. Goooooooooo! Chia Seeds are available in every supermarket now and I love how this makes a simple goopy mass. It takes a bit of planning but hardly any work!

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Another super simple recipe from Growing a Jeweled Rose. I buy my Bicarb in big boxes online now and have a load waiting to be used. I’m planning this for a summer activity and if it’s in the garden it’ll need no cleaning up!

Rainbow Slime (1)

Now I know this one is a bit more complicated (but even the amazing Allison over at Learn Play Imagine says you don’t have to colour it.) but look at it!!!! I want to play with this forget the boy! However, before you start, liquid starch is really difficult to get hold of in the UK. You can, it’s just difficult and can be expensive.

Soooooo I found this amazing post by Fun at Home with Kids on how to make Slime the UK way, using a kind of detergent from Aldi.

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As we have no Aldi near us I cant test this myself yet. However the detergent and white PVA is cheap as chips so as soon as I find some I’ll be testing it out.

I hope you see something in here you think, “yeah I could have a go at that”. Go on be brave.

Let me know how it goes!

xxx

 

 

#ToddlerApprovedTuesday
Advice From The Heart

Shaving Foam Paint

So I’ve written before about my hitherto lack of both desire and nerve to get crafty with Oscar at home. We’ve avoided it for several reasons, one being his previous lack of interest and another being the mess it makes. My house is tiny. I’ve always figured I don’t have space for getting our painting freak on. Then recently I decided to throw caution to the wind and try out a couple of crafty/messy play ideas, all at home, all indoors. He’s that bit older now and anything that encourages him to concentrate is great for his development. I wrote recently about our success with homemade moon sand and playdoh and this week I decided to bite the bullet and let him try painting.

I wanted to try making my own paints, mostly to see if I could, and found this beginners paint post on learnplayimagine.com, a great resources for sensory and messy play ideas. It had two ingredients: shaving foam and some form of colouring. You could either use a squirt of paint, or as I did, food colouring. I have some tubs of Wilton Candy Colours, which meant I was able to mix up Blue, Red, Yellow, Green and Orange. I tried purple, but for some reason the red just wouldn’t mix in with the blue, so I gave up on that one.

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I mixed up the colouring first

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Then mixed in the shaving foam. I moved his small table into the kitchen and completely covered it in lining paper (I bought a huge roll for 3 from Wilkinson’s), stuck down at each end. This provided a non slip area for him to paint on.

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The paint stays ‘foamy’ which is great to touch!

It was super quick to set up. Probably longer than just squirting ready mixed paint into tubs, but I figured if I could start with this I might get the nerve to move up to that.

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I didn’t have any brushes, but used a mixture of sponges, a roller and toilet rolls. He soon started to get the hang of it.

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Making his presence felt on the paper

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He was so good at keeping the paint on the paper. I was worried he might try and paint the whole house, but I should have given him more credit I guess. Plus this shaving foam/food colouring combo came off his clothes really easily, so a bit here and there wasn’t the end of the world. It is after all just soap with colouring!

After he’d painted all the paper and mixed the colours I changed his paper and he went to get one of his trains. Clearly what he felt was missing from this art project was some train tracks! Not sure why poor James got a lump of green in the face. I think he was trying to feed him!

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Eat your greens James!

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Dynamic!

Because the base of this paint is foamed soap, it doesn’t quite dry like ready mixed paint. I read that if you want it to set better, you can add PVA glue to it, but we didn’t bother this time. I hung the pictures to dry and dabbed the excess foam off with a tissue. It’s dried pretty well. But really this wasn’t about creating a masterpiece. It was partly getting Oscar to engage with something and partly to grow my confidence with craft projects in the house. And all in all I think this was a great place to start.

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A great place to start

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I love the energy in this one

A green by any other name…

We moved into our house in 2011, just after I found out I was pregnant (and I mean literally. We signed the contract on the Thursday and I found out the following Tuesday. That sort of ‘just’). Anyway. We’d bought the house with all sorts of grand schemes of how we’d like to decorate and things we’d like to do and within days every plan got put on hold, as all finances had to be focussed on baby stuff instead. We did get Oscar’s room painted (I just couldn’t live with the highlighter shade of fluorescent pink the previous owners had for their little girl) but that was pretty much it. We’ve lived here three years now and actually the fug of new baby is lifting and we’re starting to see (read: get bloody annoyed with) the bits around the house that really could do with, well, doing.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done a couple of odds and sods around the house. We have shelves in the kitchen where none used to be and a mantle piece fitted that everyone who visits comments on and loves. We even have a new deck recently built by Ben and some of our manliest friends in a weekend. But we haven’t done any real decorating and to be honest there is so much that could be done that it was hard to know where to start! Anyway a few months ago we decided the only room in the house that had been shown no love at all since we moved in was our bedroom, and actually of all the rooms in the house, this one needs some serious TLC. The plaster is old and I mean really old and has been patched, badly, over the 100 odd years the house has been standing. The carpet is OK, but not fantastic and the wardrobes, which have cleverly been built over the alcoves either side of the chimney breast, aren’t actually that pretty to look at and, in my opinion, far too dark a colour for the space. And by space I mean lack of space. I mean it’s not minuscule, but once you add our king size bed and our ‘bought on the hop in the absence of anything else 8 years ago’ Ikea drawers and bedside tables then it’s not great. So we’ve decided to gut the entire room and start again, hopefully making more of the space available.

Ugly wardrobes, patchy plaster work and Ikea furniture.

Ugly wardrobes, patchy plaster work and Ikea furniture. Its a mess alright.

Which was fine, until I realised I had to arrange it all. It’s a proper project to manage, with time pressures and all sorts. We knew we wanted to remove the inordinately large radiator for good (we don’t use the heating now we have the log burner) and add more power sockets to the room (I’m sorry but four is just not enough for any modern household). Getting that sorted by the respective tradespeople was easy. It was the co-ordinating the plasterer with the decorator I was having a problem with. Thank god I managed to find someone who does both and can co-ordinate himself! We’re also having the wardrobes ripped out (hooray) and rebuilt by our friend Richard and will include drawers, so the Ikea delights can go to the tip. I’m so excited to see it all come together that I almost don’t feel the fear of having to completely clear the room and deposit the stuff we remove around the rest of the house for as long as the refurb takes. Almost.

So anyway the only decision I’m having to make the moment is the colour of the walls and my god am I struggling. The trouble is I know what colour I want. I just can’t find it. The house is awash with colour charts and the walls have various tester patches, none of which are right. I had the same problem with my bridesmaid dresses. I want green. How hard can it be. Oh you’d be surprised.

Nope, none of them.

Nope, none of them.

Colour chart madam?

Colour chart madam?

While we’ve got the decorator on site, we’re also going to have the front door and outside windows stripped and painted. I can’t bloody wait. They’re an absolute disgrace and I’m sure having them done will stop us being the scruffy herberts of the street (we really are!). The windows will be white and the door a Farrow and Ball colour called Chappell Green. Lovely. Well that was easy enough to chose. So why can’t I find the bedroom colour?

In my mind, it’s going to look something like this. Green, with lots of white woodwork, only with a slightly darker floor – if I can ever find the paint I want!

Love it!

Love it!

Work starts next week.

Wish me luck!