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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!