Coming up with messy play ideas such as painting is a wonderful, fun and educational activity for children which stimulates body and mind. Messy play is always a guaranteed hit with children. Even the simplest of activities, especially those that involve paint, combine playing, learning, self-expression and development of motor skills. Although setting up messy play can take some time (and tidying even more) it creates hours of fun and amusement which gives children the opportunity to make and keep their own creation.
Whether you’re looking for messy play ideas for use in a pre-school environment, school or for a kids party then the following can be tailored to suit!
How to Set Up Messy Play Activities for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers to Encourage Learning and Play
This activity takes only 10 minutes to set up which is great value considering it creates a couple of hours of creative fun for the kids. Ideally this could be done outside but indoors if fine if weather prevails.
Here’s what you will need:
- Poster paint
- Bumper craft pack
- Rubber of latex gloves
- Aprons for the kids
- Assorted pots – any will do
- Some old cars or trains and other interesting and safe, age appropriate items that the children can use to paint with
Set up your area, put loads of newspaper down on the floor with a selection of coloured card in the middle. Make sure there’s enough newspaper for the children to sit on around the assortment of card and make sure that there’s a piece of card for each child so they can take a piece home. For example, if there’s 14 kids then put down 14 pieces of card in the centre on top of the newspaper.
Put down plastic bowls filled with interesting bits that they can add to their creations including the items from the bumper craft collage kit:
- Acrylic Jewels
- Pony Beads
- Coloured and Plain Matchsticks
- EVA foam shapes
- Corrugated Paper Shapes
- Wood Chippings
- Glitter Ribbons
- Craft Sticks
- Polystyrene Shape
- Tissue Paper
- Anything else you are happy to get paint on
The more bowls you have the better, it will look more fun to the kids who will see the little items much more easily if they are split up.
Add a big squirt of each of the coloured poster paint into a bowl and set up amongst the collage kit items. If possible, set the order of the paints in order of the colours of the rainbow (or as close to this) to help teach them about the order of these colours.
If you have any toy cars that will withstand a bit of paint (are easy to clean) then these make great messy play activities. Show the kids how to dip the wheels in and roll them across the paper. Teach them the colour of the rainbow too, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet in a rainbow shape makes a beautiful design that their parents will hang up with pride!
Cut potatoes in half and shape into shapes or letters, if time permits then cut the shapes of each letter of the first name for each child!
It’s great to work collaboratively with each child being shown how to use the items. Each child will undoubtedly prefer one item to the other but it’s important to show them the variety because children of pre-school ages can have a short attention span as we all know!
Try and turn it into a team building and sharing exercise so that the children know from the offset that they are jointly collaborating in a work of art together. Messy play like this is open-ended, so the children can use the materials however they like.
Now if you want to take this one step further then you can create messy play with gloves! Here’s what to do:
- You’ll need 1 glove for 2-3 children as they won’t all use them at the same time (they will need a hand so be prepared to manage their expectations about taking it in turns)
- Take your gloves and half fill half way with watered down poster paints (50/50 water to paint ratio should do it), don’t make it too runny or the paint will come out too fast.
- Make little holes into the ends of the gloves so the paint can come out (using a pin will work)sp;
- You can use as many colours as you want, you may want to add different colours into the fingers or each glove if you’re feeling particularly creative!
- Use rubber bands to secure the tops of the gloves
- Pass the gloves around to the children and encourage them in sensory messy play by asking them how the glove feels.
- Encourage them to move the glove around to help with motor skills
- Ask them to squeeze hard and softly so they can understand how it affects the painting and encourage the to use the fine motor skills
- Make sure the children are allowed to make handprints in the paint to print with their own hands
Expect a mixture of quiet concentration, chat and co-operation and shrieks of delight.
Now you just need the children to use their imagination and their hands. Don’t forget the aprons!!
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