Category Archives: Messy Play

messy and sensory fun including the serious business of learning

Sound and water play


This is something we did a while ago but I am linking up with Jennie for ‘Messy Play for Matilda Mae’ and her theme this week is water play.  And yes, it got messy (well, my house was a bit soggy!).

Toby just loves water play and its a fail-safe way of keeping him busy for long periods.  This time I decided to spice it up by adding some yellow food colouring and a few drops of bergamot essential oil to create a citrusy feast for the senses. I used an Ikea underbed storage box raised on a small table.



In it I had put a range of containers, a colander and the metal plate that sits on my scales.  Toby wanted to add some his Playmobil people to make some stories: they ended up on a boat that was sinking (a plastic container that veg came in!).

I then extended his play by encouraging him to listen to the sounds that the objects made when struck with various implements.  So we hit the colander with the balloon whisk and tried the metal plate with a wooden spoon.  Through this we discovered that lowering the metal plate into the water whilst it was being hit altered the pitch of the sound.  Toby found this fascinating.


He also enjoyed the sound it made when he pushed it into the water at speed!


In his own play, he concentrated on pouring and story-telling, but this is something we will come back to.




Cracking the fear of mess…with very clean shaving foam!


I’ve mentioned before about how it seems that boys, certainly mine, are often more reticent about getting messy than their girl counterparts.  I haven’t had time to research whether this is anything more than anecdotal, but in any case, my little lad just couldn’t resist the temptation (and clean smell!) of shaving foam … eventually!

I started out by spraying the foam into the letters ‘T’, ‘M’, ‘D’ and ‘H’ and we talked about these (a current interest).  I’d also put out some implements for him to use to manipulate the foam, rather than having to use his hands, thanks to Ghostwritermummy and this post.

Toby immediately picked up a paintbrush and wiped out the letters, even daring to poke the brush with his finger to try it out.

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He asked for me to get it off, but I said that I had some on my fingers and I thought it was fine, which satisfied him and he continued.  I made a T in the foam



But he wasn’t yet ready to make marks with his fingers himself.

After a bit more brushing, he got a bit bolder…

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…and then painted mummy…



…and then his knee!



He was then in the tuff spot and discovered how slippy the foam is.  This he found hilarious and particularly enjoyed making marks with his legs and feet while Daddy held him:

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I then took Edspire’s lead (here) and involved him in the tidy up bu giving him a bowl of warm soapy water and a sponge…

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…just as much fun and job done!

I’m feeling positive about our messy play today and am glad we are no longer shaving foam virgins!



Having found the inspiration from reading all the terrific links on Edspire’s Messy Play for Matilda Mae linky, I decided to make some gloop cornflour and water) and allow both boys the opportunity to explore.  I haven’t had a chance yet to research whether there is an identifiable gender difference in willingness to get messy but it was certainly the case that Toby didn’t like having it on his hands, although he did allow me to drip some on before insisting that we washed it off.



I’d coloured some yellow and some green and Toby enjoyed trying to mix them up (not easy!).  He chose to tip some out into the tuff spot and then really enjoyed putting his foot on it.  I say ‘on’ it as the stuff is so wierd, it turns solid with the application of pressure.  For some reason, getting feet dirty is not as bad as hands and he enjoyed then making footprints…

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Harry, however, got completely stuck in and enjoyed it with all his senses!

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Lots of messy fun!

Muddy waters


This week’s messy play took place outside…Hurrah!!

Quite simply, Toby and I planted some seeds and I then put some spare compost in one side of his water table and water in the other.  He merrily spent ages pouring water onto the compost and then finding stones to ‘plant’!


He didn’t, however, want to put his hands in to retrieve the stones and its got me thinking…. Quite a few of the posts linked up here on Edspire’s ‘Messy Play for Matilda Mae’ Linky contain a common theme of boys not wanting to get too messy.  Obviously its not universal (Edspire’s little boy, William, certainly enjoys getting stuck in!) but there have been enough to get me wondering about a gender difference.  Anyone got any thoughts?? Think I might do a bit of research.  Will report if I find anything!

Edspire </p><p>Messy Play

Cooking clouds


I’ve been out of the social media scene over the last week or so (new post coming soon to talk about why) but I know that Edspire is starting a ‘Tales from the Tuff spot’ weekly feature on her blog an once I get a moment, I’ll get up to speed and do a bit of joined up thinking as we use our Tuff spot at least once a week.  I did manage to link up to her ‘Messy Play for Matilda Mae‘ linky and am pondering all the activity surrounding the relaunch of FSIDs as the Lullaby Trust (please do take a look at advice for safe sleeping and support) but for now, this is simply our latest messy play adventure:

We’ve played with cloud dough quite a bit since I first made it, but our first batch’s time was up (it had been mixed with water beads in a pirate sea/sand adventure!) and so Toby and I made a new lot.

We used 7 parts flour to 1 part baby oil.  Toby very much enjoyed the pouring of the oil!


He wouldn’t, however, mix the flour and oil together; “Mummy do it” is a bit of a constant at the moment…

But he did want to add the sparkles (glitter):

IMG_2218I’d put out lots of different cooking utensils and some silicone cupcake holders. Toby chose to use the measuring spoons to fill the cases with ‘cakes’

IMG_2219 IMG_2223He then notice that we hang the utensils on some hooks in the kitchen an wanted to try to hang them back up. So I put the hooks on a lower rail an he spent ages practising hooking and unhooking….with the occasional, “Mummy do it”!

Painting nature


I  saw this on pinterest and this on Ghostwritermummy (thank you one and all) and thought that my little pickle might like to try something like this.  It would be a good way to get out into the great outdoors, as we’ve almost forgotten what fresh air feels like unless its biting cold, and the painting would allow a more closer look at the qualities of the objects that we found.  In the end, the painting of the natural objects took second place to painting ‘Grumps!’ but we still had fun collecting and exploring the different objects and FINALLY being outside!

My parents have a wood at the bottom of their garden and so we took a basket and went for a scavenge!


Toby liked the big stick the best…are little boys hard-wired to like big sticks???

IMG_2180 IMG_2182We also found bits of bark, some pieces of flint, pine cones and several smaller sticks.


Then Grumps showed Toby his compost bin and retrieved a worm…Toby liked this lots!

IMG_2184Whilst they were worm-fiddling, I set up this:


Harry didn’t think much of the bark but then he was really tired so I took him in and left the boys to it.


This is what happened:

IMG_2190 IMG_2192 IMG_2194As I wasn’t there, I don’t know how the conversation went but lots of fun was had and a bit of vitamin D absorbed…all to the good!