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Top ideas for Messy Play at home

By Tiffany Absalom

As our playgrounds and kids activities have been closing down for the good of our community, finding new and exciting ways to keep the kids entertained while in lockdown is getting tricky. While we’d love to have been able to go ahead with our planned March Messy Play Day event, sadly we’ll have to save it for another time.

But we don’t want you to miss out on all the fun! We’ve put together a few of our sure-fire messy play ideas that you can do at home, all with items you should be able to find lying around your house.

These should help break the isolation rut and get the kids out of your hair, at least for a few minutes


This idea has got to be one of our favourites! Try setting some water safe (no holes) toys in a tub of jelly overnight. Give the kids some digging ‘instruments’ and let them excavate the ‘treasure’.

Take it one step further with a dish of soapy water plus a brush or cloth, and let them scrub clean the treasure they’ve dug up.

Here’s how to make 1.5L of jelly:

  • Use one packet of store bought jelly to make 500mls

  • Add extra gelatin leaves or crystals as per packet instructions to add an additional 1L



This is another one the kids just love. We’ve added some beads we had in the cupboard, and decorated our castles after making them. This is a great activity for honing fine motor skills, counting, colour sequencing and recognising different textures. Keep your eyes on littlies to make sure small parts don’t end up in their mouth.



What kid doesn’t love a little mud play! If you’re not into the real thing, then why not make your own mud. We’ve used some leaves and sticks from our garden with a set of water safe (no holes) dinosaurs we borrowed from toy library, but you can use

old cars and trucks, or other toys you might have at home.

Here’s our recipe for DIY mud:

  • 2 cups flour

  • 2 cups water

  • Add cocoa powder as desired. The more cocoa, the ‘dirtier’ the mud will be.



Why not get out and enjoy a walk around the block - it’ll give you some exercise plus allow the kids to collect a few sticks, leaves, bark, flowers and other bits of nature they might find. Then simply pull out the glue and get your kids sticking down their own nature scene.

We went one step further and added some paint and a few stampers (like old cookie cutters) to create our masterpiece.

Here’s our tip for DIY paint pads:

  • Old ice cream/chinese container lid

  • Non-toxic poster paints

  • Kitchen sponge

  • Wet and ring out the sponge and place on the lid. Squirt a little paint onto the centre of the sponge. Add water and swirl paint until it covers the sponge. Adjust paint and water until it’s the right consistency for stamping.



Who doesn’t like a good bubble session! This one is best for those warmer days outside. Fill a laundry tub with water and a good squirt of dish soap or bubble bath mix. Give the kids an old whisk and get frothing! You’ll have more bubbles than you know what to do with - we enjoyed making bubble snowmen, gave ourselves a white beard and had a great time! Bubble wands also make for a great afternoon activity.



An oldie but a goodie, this is a great activity because there are so many different ways to paint and so many different things to paint! Grab what you have lying around the house and let the kids get creative. Perhaps set them up outside to keep the mess out there for easy clean up!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Good ol’ paint and a brush on paper

  • Try stamping with old cookie cutters and our DIY paint pads above

  • Put those old cars and tractors to good use, run them through some paint and then make tracks over the paper

  • Water painting! The littlies will love this one - take a brush or some sponges and dip in water and paint the pavers and driveway. Hours of fun!

  • Hand painting! Paint the kids’ hands and let them get messy!

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