10 simple, brilliantly messy and creative play activities to try at home!

10 simple, brilliantly messy and creative play activities to try at home!

It’s a gloomy winter day when the TV is driving you to distraction and the little ones are desperate for something to do…..open your kitchen cupboards and whip up some messy play fun!

Open ended messy and creative play activities can keep children entertained for AGES! Plus all the time they’re playing they’re learning, developing skills, working on language and communication, problem solving…so it’s educational too!

If you’re mess-adverse then there are some “less messy” options in the list below, but it’s also really quite easy to keep mess contained! Try using a long low storage box to keep the play materials contained (like an under bed storage box), pop an old sheet or plastic cloth on the floor and strip the kids down to vests and nappy/pants so they can get well and truly stuck in!

1. Rice Play

This is definitely low mess and so much fun! Coloured with food colouring or just plain, add spoons, pots, pans, colanders….it’s sensory, GREAT for scooping and pouring and measuring and it’s magic stuff that somehow can soothe the most fractious toddler!!

messy play with rice

2. Edible Paints

We love using edible paints in our Baby ARTventurers classes…….SO easy to make! You can try finger painting with things like yoghurt or whip (with some food colour added?), mix up a super simple edible paint with flour and warm water and a bit of colouring OR try one of the cornflour paint recipes like this lovely one from The Imagination Tree!

Set out some large sheets of paper (lining paper is cheap and brilliant for this) and let your little artist get making marks and creating masterpieces!            edible paint


3. Jelly on a Plate!

Wibble wobble, wibble wobble……hide some toys in jelly and let them dig them out! OR use jelly granules with a small amount of water to create a paste – you’ve got jelly paint!!

jelly messy play


4. Oats or cereal Play

For those who are mess averse – a box or tray of oats or dry cereal can provide a fab dry play material! Add trucks and diggers and it can become a building site……pour water in too and start mixing up some concrete!

messy play with oats


5. Gloop!

Is it a solid, is it a liquid??….it’s rare to find a child (or adult!) who isn’t fascinated by gloop! Mix it up with cornflour and water – super simple and FABULOUS for Halloween slime with some colour added!

playing with gloop


6. Cloud dough

Super soft, mouldable just like sand (but not as gritty!) and SO easy to make…..just grab some flour and add some veg oil……mix with your fingers to achieve a crumbly mouldable texture….now PLAY!

cloud dough recipe


7. Chocolate mud

Just follow the cloud dough instructions above – and chuck in some chocolate powder! Add some plastic pots and a few vegetables and you’ve got your very own veg patch to dig and play with! Kept in a sealed airtight box between play sessions this should keep for quite a while!

messy play ideas


8. Spaghetti/pasta play

Brilliant for developing those fine and gross motor skills and pincer grips, playing with spaghetti is always a big hit and it’s so easy to do! Cook until just cooked, drain and stir in some food colour if you want to brighten it up a little…..how much fun?!

messy play with spaghetti


9. Flour

Never underestimate the play properties of plain old flour! It’s a snowy scene, it’s a snow storm! It’s great for piling up and knocking down! You can make marks, draw patterns, write your initial….get set GO!

messy play with flour


10. Super snow

Ok, so for this one you’re going to be raiding the bathroom cabinet as well as the kitchen cupboard! Cornflour AND shaving foam – mix together and crumble with your hands to create some super snow! This isn’t one for babies who are just going to pile it straight into their mouths but older kids can have hours of fun mixing and playing with this one!

sensory snow play

If you’re trying some messy play at home then we’d LOVE to see the photos – post them our social media with #artventurersfun so we can see what your own ARTventurers have been up to!





Baby ARTventurers – the science behind it! …why art and creative play is so important for babies

At ARTventurers we are passionate about getting babies, toddlers and children involved in art and creative play from an early age and our Baby ARTventurers sessions are specifically designed for babies aged 6 to 18 months.

At Baby ARTventurers we encourage our babies and younger toddlers to explore, feel, create, squidge, squish, pour and get as messy as they want to! Messy, creative, sensory play in a safe and secure environment is a vital developmental aid for little people. Children are active learners and learn through play. Messy play is particularly valuable because it stimulates many of their senses at once – they can feel, smell, see, and sometimes even taste the consequences of their messy active play!

How will my baby/toddler benefit from messy/sensory play and involvement in early art activities?
Physical Development
Messy, sensory, creative play is extremely important for development of motor skills and coordination. Activities such as stacking, pouring, scooping, stirring will develop eye-hand coordination and squidging, pulling and moulding play dough is great for muscle tone. Practicing mark making with paint or shaving cream and using tongs will develop fine motor skills. Hands-on activities provide opportunities for little ones to compare textures such as smooth, rough, hard and soft.

Communication and Language Development
Creative play is a great aid to language development and communication – a fantastic way for babies and toddlers to interact with grown ups and other children, learn new words and phrases and use their imagination in exploring their surroundings and the sensory experiences on offer. What might look to us like a plain old tray of jelly could easily become a dinosaurs home, alien slime or a fairy’s bouncy castle! When a baby or toddler makes his or her first marks on paper or creates their first painting, this is their early attempts at expressing themselves to you visually. We also use singing and music making in our Baby ARTventurers classes as an aid to language development – as well as it being lots of fun!

Personal, Emotional and Social Development
Baby ARTventurers sessions are carefully planned and designed with children’s natural curiosity in mind. We believe strongly in the value of free flow activities for young children and the benefits of free art. There is no “right” or wrong way for children to do creative, messy play. The activities are child led, supported by you as their grown ups. This approach to creativity builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Through creative play and activities, the children will also develop concentration, problem-solving and planning – measuring, pouring, experimenting – and playing alongside other children allows early friendships and sharing skills to develop.

Intellectual and mathematical development
Creative play and early art activities provide endless opportunities for learning – numbers, colours, shapes and so on. Younger babies and toddlers learn an awful lot from observing older children in action.

Creative Development
Baby ARTventurers sessions provide babies and younger toddlers with a wide variety of materials to build imagination and creativity. Through sensory experiences, the children can respond to what they see, hear, feel, touch and smell. The creative process of painting, making shapes, squishing or squidging allows little people to express themselves in their own way, especially important when their verbal language skills are not yet fully developed.

We hope that you and your baby/toddler enjoy your creative journey with us and if you have any questions about any of the activities during our sessions or you want advice on creative play to try at home then please just give us a shout!

Why we LOVE art at ARTventurers!

Take a look at all of the reasons why we’re so passionate about getting children involved in art activities from an early age!

Why art is so important for children

Plus it’s tons of fun too!

Check out our Find a Class page to join in the fun near you!