Messy play ideas for outside

Let’s face it, kids can be pretty gross. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has shrieked, “Don’t touch me don’t touch me DON’T TOUCH ME!” with steadily increasing volume at my child’s brown and sticky outstretched hands.

If it’s not messy, it’s just not fun. Mud, glue, dirt, insects, feathers, sand, glitter … these are all things my six-year-old daughter loves to play with. They also have a delightful way of ending up in my handbag. And sometimes my hair.

I swear I could have made my own backyard sandpit by now with the amount of sand I have poured out of my daughter’s shoes each day, even when she has not been around sand! How does that happen?!

One great thing about messy play is that it provides hours of entertainment (well, at least half an hour). And when messy play is enjoyed outside in the backyard, I’m less likely to enter meltdown mode!

Here are five ideas for messy play – outside only!

  1. Slimy rainbow spaghetti

Cook a packet of spaghetti, then drain and rinse with cold water to cool it down. Add a few drops of food colouring of your choice. Put the spaghetti in a big bowl or bucket outside and let your kids squish it, slop it and twist it with forks and chopsticks.

  1. Jelly play

Make some jelly in a big bowl using packet instructions. Or, you could make several smaller bowls of different flavoured jelly, then once set, scoop spoonfuls or cut the jelly into cubes and put them into one large bowl or container. Take the set jelly outside, throw in some cars, toy dinosaurs, figurines, or whatever takes the kids’ fancy, and let them squish and play away to their hearts’ content.

  1. Slime experiment

Pour two cups of cornflour into a bowl. In another bowl, add one cup of water and add a few drops of food colouring. Slowly add the water to the cornflour, stirring halfway through. You (or the kids) could try adding different amounts of water for different consistencies. Take the bowl outside – maybe place it on some newspaper to catch the mess – and let your kids experiment!

  1. Mud painting

This one takes the mud cake! Kids can create their own works of art by using mud as paint. Encourage them to find bits and pieces from around the backyard – grass, leaves, bark, feathers – and glue them onto their artwork to create a nature masterpiece.

  1. Super foamy car wash

Does your car need a wash? Let the kids do it! Make up a bucket of water with extra car wash to make it super foamy, then let them have some bubbly, fizzy fun while doing one of your chores!

Messy Outdoor Play

Written by Lauren from Full Stop Publishing.


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