sensory messy play ideas
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30 Messy Play Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We love messy play in our house but coming up with messy play ideas can be a bit of a challenge. I often need an activity that will engage both a toddler and a preschooler at the same time.

As it’s school holidays, I search for activities that will help both children play harmoniously without ‘he ruined it!’ being shouted my way.

Aside from it being a great way to fill the time, sensory play is important for a child’s development. Research shows that by engaging in sensory play, it helps build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways which help them complete more complex tasks. There are many ways in which sensory play supports development, including boosting language development, cognitive growth, problem-solving skills, social skills and fine and gross motor skills to name a few.

I really can’t wait to give some of these a try with the kids. We’ve already excavated dinosaurs and action figures out of ice and cleaned muddy toys.

What I love is seeing how each child engages differently with the activity. Jack has always been very analytical and tried to figure out exactly how things work through cause and effect. While George is all about exploring the sounds and how they feel, taste and smell.

I’ve put together a roundup of 30 tried and tested messy play ideas – enough to get you through the rest of the month!

Sensory Messy Play

sensory messy play ideas

  1. Cloud dough
  2. Dinosaur Swamp
  3. Rainbow soap slime
  4. Erupting volcano made out of play dough
  5. Shaving foam tuff tray
  6. Crunchy box with pasta and cereal
  7. Scissor skills with jelly
  8. Make your own ice cream parlour
  9. Rainbow spaghetti

Art and Crafts

sensory messy play ideas arts and crafts

  1. Painting with trucks and cars
  2. Paint with balloons
  3. Painting with kitchen utensils
  4. Outdoor cardboard painting
  5. Painting with cotton wool
  6. Painting on foil
  7. Painting with feet

Edible Messy Play Ideas

edible messy play ideas

  1. Edible mud
  2. Edible finger paint
  3. Edible ‘water’ beads
  4. Edible sand
  5. Harvest sensory bin
  6. Rainbow oats

Outdoors Messy Play Ideas

outdoor messy play ideas

  1. Wash muddy farm yard animals
  2. Make a garden
  3. Dinosaurs frozen in ice
  4. Make a science lab
  5. Play dough jungle
  6. Dig in the mud for worms
  7. Outside sticky wall
  8. Slide painting

I’d love to know how you get on with these ideas. Perhaps it’s sparked some sensory inspiration of your own?

30 messy play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers
30 Easy sensory messy play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers
30 easy messy play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers



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