My kids absolutely love messy play and it can be a lot of fun. It gives them freedom to get their hands on anything glittery, sticky and covered in glue. Let’s be honest though, what we don’t love is the actual mess that comes with messy play.
Sometimes we don’t have the time or space for these activities which often lead to play dough being trodden into the carpet or shaving foam covering the table.
I wholeheartedly advocate sensory play but don’t always want the massive clean-up afterwards, so here are some quick and mess free tactile play ideas which will aid your child’s sensory and motor development.
These are really easy to set up and can be created using random objects around the house. From pine cones to nail brushes, treasure baskets are a wonderfully adaptable depending on the age and interests of your child.
Spiders Web Sensory Basket
I love this idea from The Train Drivers Wife. All you need is a laundry basket and some wool and thread it tightly in a pattern to create a spider’s web. Then hide toys within for your toddler to rescue.
Non-Messy Paint Mixing
Place paper and paint into a zip-lock bag and sellotape it up. Then your little one can create patterns and pictures using their fingers.
Calm Down Sensory Bottles
This doubles up as a sensory calm-down and a science lesson. Rhythms of Play is the master of making sensory play bottles. They help children learn how to regulate their emotions and help calm them down. They can even be used for adults too when we are feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious.
Magnet Sensory Bin
This idea from Mamasmiles is a wonderful way to help develop your child’s fine motor skills. Use a large container and fill with black beans, then hide magnetic discs within it for your child to discover with their magnet.
Why draw on paper when you can use sandpaper instead? Allow your child to get artistic with the crayons to create a rustic looking picture.
Button Sorting Cups
These button sorting cups from About Family Crafts are perfect for colour recognition and fine motor skills. My kids love posting things so this will keep them amused for a while.
This idea from House of Burke can be made in minutes and all you need is a bread pan and elastic rubber bands to create a little guitar.
Felt Flower Crafts
Ahh I remember playing with felt for hours when I was little. It’s pretty easy to recreate now and you can create any shapes or patterns you like – how about this felt flowers idea from Living Life and Learning
Pasta Trees and Animals
This is one we return to time and time again. Stick some uncooked spaghetti into some play dough and then have your child thread Cheerios and penne pasta on top. You can even make little play dough and pasta hedgehogs.