Is it a solid or a liquid? Goop is one of the easiest messy play activities to set up, but kids love it! Just mix cornflour and water until you achieve your desired consistency. Make the goop more exciting by adding food colouring and anything else that takes your children’s fancy: glitter, flower petals, small toys, etc. For kids who aren’t keen on getting mucky, give them some kitchen utensils, such as strainers and spoons, to help them explore the texture of the goop.
Here’s another great outdoor activity from Cath, our Forest School leader…
Crush some chalk on the patio with a stone or hammer (may need supervision). Add water and mix to form paint. Use different colours and try mixing them together. Experiment with other materials e.g. soil, charcoal.
Use a stick or paintbrush to create some artwork. It doesn’t have to be on paper; paint the patio, the shed door, stones, an old cardboard box, anything that needs brightening up.
Chalk paint washes off easily, so you won’t have a purple patio forever. But it does look lovely!
This is a favourite activity of Cath, our Forest School leader and something that the children always love doing at Pippins. All you need is an old pan, cup, dish or empty yoghurt pot, and a spoon or stick to stir it.
Send the children to collect interesting ingredients: leaves, grass, twigs, flowers (but tell them if there are any they can’t pick!), stones, soil, crushed chalk, paint, bubble mixture, etc. If you don’t have access to a garden, you can find some good ingredients in the house. Then mix it all up!
There are lots of variations: cook it on a pretend campfire or play kitchen. Add mud to thicken. Make it as stinky as possible – or as nice as possible. Dish it up in small plates and serve to family or toys. Have a teddy bear’s picnic or cafe. Is it a magic potion? If so, what does it do? Does it give you special powers?
Let your kids get stuck into this fun sensory activity. Not quite as messy as most messy play, this is a good option if you don’t want to have to clean paint splatters off your walls and the end of the day! All you need is a package (or more) of spaghetti, some food colouring, and possibly a few drops of oil.
Boil your spaghetti as normal, but remove it from the heat a couple of minutes early, so it’s still firmer than how you would typically eat it. Run it under cold water to stop the cooking and remove the excess starch.
Separate out handfuls of spaghetti into a bowl or zip seal bag for each colour you plan to make. Add some food colouring and shake the bag (or stir the bowl) until you’ve achieved your desired colour. If you find that the spaghetti is sticking together a lot, then add a bit of oil at this point.
Leave the spaghetti sitting out for about an hour, so the food colouring has a chance to dry, or refrigerate it if you want to make it to play with on another day.
When it’s time for your kids to get stuck in, dump all the spaghetti worms onto a wipe-clean table, or put them in a big plastic bin/bucket. You may want to hide small toys in the spaghetti for your children to dig through and find, or give them toy gardening or kitchen utensils to use such as spades, spoons, tongs, etc.
Clean mud? Yes, you read that correctly. This satisfyingly squishy ‘mud’ is made with loo roll, a bar of soap and some paint. Additionally you’ll need a cheese grater (or similar), and a plastic bin to contain the mess (or let your kids do this activity in an empty bathtub!). Find the recipe for Rainbow Clean Mud on parentingchaos.com.
Looking for a way to cool off as the days get warmer? How about a game of water balloon piñata? You will need some balloons, plenty of string, something to use as a bat (baseball bat, cricket bat, sweeping brush handle, long cardboard tube, etc.), and an open space outside to set up your game.
1. Fill your balloons with water and tie them closed. (The fuller they are, the quicker they will burst!)
2. Tie a length of string to each ballon and hang them outside. A tree branch would be ideal for this, but a patio cover, washing line, or outdoor umbrella may also work as long as they can support the weight of the water balloons. Make sure you don’t tie the balloons too high – your child needs to be able to reach them with their bat!
3. Let your kids take turns swinging the bat at the balloons and see who can pop the most!
Always supervise your child at all times with this activity, particularly when they are using the bat. Others must stand well back when someone is taking their turn.
Spring is here and there are lots of interesting birds to spot right outside your window. Your kids will love this messy craft project from the Woodland Trust to make their own bird feeder.
Take the empty cardboard tube from a roll of loo roll and get your kids to smother it in peanut butter (the kind without any added salt or sugar).
Then, roll the tube in birdseed. If you don’t have birdseed at home, the RSPB recommends foods like uncooked porridge oats, cooked rice, any breakfast cereal, raisins or other dried fruits, seeds, or even mild grated cheese.
Now it’s time to tie up your new bird feeder outside and see who pops round for a snack! Print out a bird watching checklist to help you and your child identify different types of birds.