Have you ever noticed how much your little one enjoys anything that creates chaos – toddlers and
young children just love messy play! Children develop as an individual whilst learning through
discovery and enjoyment, and so Toad Hall Nursery have put together some ideas for fun messy play
this summer. If you’ve been too anxious to try it inside your home, summer is the perfect
opportunity to get outside and throw out the rule book, safe in the knowledge that you can turn the
hose pipe on and wash it all away.
Sand pits – There’s something about sand that children are drawn to, whether it’s making
sandcastles, mixing it with water or trying to eat it, they just can’t keep away. Keep them busy with a
sandpit and some tools. A bucket and spade will keep them occupied for hours.
Mud kitchen – Little ones love to copy mum and dad and pretend to cook up a storm. Treat them to
an outdoor kitchen where they can make messy mud pies and decorate cakes with pebbles – just try
and catch them before they eat it!
Painting – Bright paint and uncoordinated hands usually ends in disaster. Take advantage of the
warmer weather and set up a paint station in your garden with a plastic sheet. Strip off their clothes
so you can pop them straight in the bath. If you don’t have any paint, try some coloured chalk and
set them to work on your patio. Don’t worry, it will all wash off!
Gardening – A miniature gardening set, some seeds and a plant pot are a great way to teach little
minds about Mother Nature. This activity has the added benefit of watching the plants grow week by
week and keeping them watered each day.
Rainy day activities – As we all know, British summer time does not guarantee sunshine but rainy
days can be great for messy play. Don your wellies and find some puddles and mud to splish-splash
in, all the dirt can be left at the front door.
Messy food fun – Definitely one for the great outdoors! Set up a plastic sheet and pile it with
spaghetti, jelly, cereal and anything else that’s got an interesting texture. Toddlers love to feel
different types of food between their fingers, and unlike dinner time there’s no pressure to keep it
on their plates.
Outdoor messy play means minimal cleaning up – bonus! Of course your little cherubs will be filthy,
but nothing a quick bath won’t fix, and bath time can be just as fun as playtime. Any mess outside
can be hosed down and messy food thrown in the outside bin.
Messy play benefits
As well as being a lot of fun and a brilliant, cost-effective way to keep little ones occupied during the
long summer holidays, messy play has so many benefits developmentally.
Messy play comes under the banner of sensory play, which stimulates senses such as touch, taste,
smell and sight. In turn this helps develop motor skills, strengthens muscles and improves movement
Alongside the physical benefits it also encourages children to use their imagination, be creative and
inquisitive as they explore, as well as being beneficial in mathematical and language development,
providing lots of opportunities for new words and counting.
So what are you waiting for? Go and get messy!