Kids love to be messy. At least mine do. I have found that some of my favorite mommy moments have been getting involved in messy sensory play. At times I cringe as the shaving cream goes flying or the paint goes everywhere, but at the end of the day, all of that can be cleaned up. But those memories of pure childhood joy will last you a lifetime. For the most part, anything messy in our house is fair game; with some rules and supervision of course! There is not much off-limits (except slime. I DESPISE slime!) Here are some of my favorite sensory play activities to bust the boredom (these are also great sick day activities!).
This is just so much fun for them. We do so much with shaving cream in our house. During the summer, we love to put shaving cream on their Cozy Coupe cars and pretend to have a car wash. Rainy indoor days we will put shaving cream on a table and just let them go to town. During this time, I will have them practice writing their letters, numbers, and shapes. For older kids, you can have them practice their spelling words or math facts. Shaving cream is just so much more fun than paper/pencil. If you have younger kids who still put everything in their mouths, they can use Reddi-Whip while the “big” kids play with shaving cream. HINT – shaving cream on a cookie sheet makes for nice and easy cleanup.
Have you ever noticed that you can buy your kids hundreds of dollars’ worth of toys, and at the end of the day, they love that stick they found outside just as much, if not more? Embrace that! Take a large bin or bowl and fill it with dirt and water – MUD (and that stick makes a great spoon!)! Mud in and of itself is great for sensory play, but you can easily take it a step farther. Go on a nature hunt and add things to your mud. Paint a tree with the mud. Make mud soup. You get the picture here. Whatever you can find in your backyard is fair game! As we near Halloween, the pumpkin carving is a great idea for sensory play. Allow the kids to help pull the pumpkin “guts” out and put them in a large bowl. Then, let them have a blast playing with the “goo” as you do the heavy carving.
This is probably my all-time favorite sensory category because it hits multiple senses and there are safe options for all ages. The options here are truly endless! Giving my 10- month-old daughter a giant bowl of cooked spaghetti to play with was worth well beyond the $1.50 I spent on that pasta. She truly had a blast (and our dog loved it as well). We’ve also explored with various flavors of Jell-o, pudding, and yogurt. Kids really love exploring the different textures, flavors, and smells. Sure, some of the food ended up on the ground, and LOTS ended up on them, but it was nothing a quick sink bath (which my kids also love!) couldn’t take care of.
This is one of my go-to activities because it’s so easy. We always have a bin of Play-Doh and endless Play-Doh accessories. My kids can reach it and they take it out when they wish. Our only rule is it must stay off the carpet (but don’t fret, if it does get smashed into your rug, it comes off pretty easily once it dries). Not only is it great for calming hyper kids down and keeping them busy, but it is also great for working on those fine motor skills. Win-Win! If you want to take this to the next step, you can also make your own play-doh. The process of making the play-doh is loads of fun. You can then add your own colors, scents, glitter, etc.
Before we know it, our now infants, toddlers, and preschoolers will be teenagers. They will be so concerned about how they look and how they are appearing to others, they won’t want to be messy. So, for this short time in their life, embrace the messiness. Let them enjoy eating yogurt with their hands, or painting their body instead of the paper – and take lots of pictures to capture these carefree days – we will miss them!