Sometimes the need for messy play comes unexpectedly and you have no time to prepare. It’s the middle of summer, you’re planning to go out and enjoy the sunshine but instead it’s pouring with rain.
I love a bit of messy play and happy to put in the effort to do something a little bit spectacular. Other times, I look in the cupboard and desperately look at what on earth I can use for some emergency indoor fun.
This weekend it was cornflakes. And you know I didn’t pre-plan this as I ended up using a large box of Kellogg’s rather than an own brand cheap and cheerful version. It’s not rocket science. I’m not pretending it is. It’s super easy messy play. It was quick, fun and hopefully will inspire you to do messy play at home with minimal effort too.
All you need for this is:
* A small paddling pool – or tub or you can even use the bath
* A large box of cornflakes
* Toys a plenty. We had a Noah’s Ark and pirate theme but you can use any toys as long as you can wash them.
Plenty of games to be had here. Try sailing boats through the cornflakes or burying treasure to be dug up with spades or kitchen spoons. Lay out bowls, pots, pans and bottles from your kitchen cupboard and let your baby get stuck in. It’s more fun if baby will sit right in the middle of things and can rustle around in the cornflakes or even help them to jump up and down to squash them all. My tot’s favourite game this time was hide and seek with mini George and Peppa pigs. We know how to have a good time!
Messy play fun with minimal effort but maximum mess? Enter the custard bath.
I’m not pretending I invented this one but sometimes all you need is a picture like this to inspire you to get a bit creative and messy at home. That and a load of custard.
What you need:
* at least 3 tins of custard (economy is fine at 17p each)
* stuff to bury in it
* bowls and spoons
We used our trusty mini paddling pool – which does need replacing as it’s got a puncture from messy play abuse – but you could use a big tray, bucket, washing-up bowl or even the bath.
My toddler is a sensitive soul. In the past we’ve tried dunking her straight in and it had devastating consequences; high-pitched screaming and custard kicking legs all up the stairs as we ran up to the bath to de-gunk her. Since then, we let her explore at her own pace. She still doesn’t get in (yet) but has a whale of a time scooping up the custard with wooden spoons, getting elbow deep and splatting it on mummy’s legs and the floor (my favourite bit).
This time we used pasta and marshmallows to make our custard soup, spooning it in and out of bowls. Even the ducks joined in.
An hour of fun for 51p and the only prep is using a tin opener.
Disclaimer: don’t try and wash a paddling pool in the kitchen sink unless you move your crystal wedding glasses from the draining board…
I love messy play. I love the idea of it and I love giving baby some crazy sensory stuff to explore but it’s one of those things you intend to do all the time but rarely get around to.
However, with the weather being cold and wet, getting out and about has been less appealing. So without completely trashing the house, I’ve been exploring new ways of messy play which are simple (having what you need already in the house) and quick. Because babies are not patient even if you’re concocting the most exciting messy play ever.
* a mixer
* washing up liquid
* tap water
* food colouring (optional)
Put a cup of water with a few good squeezes of washing up liquid (about 3-4 tablespoons) in a mixer. Add a capful of colouring. Turn the mixer on and beat for around 2-3 minutes.
The air is whisked into the solution and quickly creates a bowlful of colourful foam which you’ll want to be fairly peaky (i.e. not too sloppy).
I did this with three colours and plopped it into a small paddling pool which was £3 from Asda. Alternatively you can do this in the bath or pour out onto trays, on to the high chair table or into a big bucket.
That is it. Easy.
My baby was a bit too cautious to get into the mix but found it fascinating – poking it, scooping it up with spoons, slopping it into bowls and playing peekaboo with a crocodile, pirate. frog and zebra I’d hidden within the foam.
After a while, the foam just disintegrates back down to liquid so you can just pour it away afterwards. If you do have little feet walking in it, be warned that the water is coloured so you’ll need to wipe the floor afterwards so it’s not multicoloured. Although I guess if you don’t add colour, that’s one way of washing the kitchen floor!