I was in an independent lovely little toy shop on my local High Street browsing for a birthday gift when a mum came in with her little girl. The little girl picked up some putty and asked her mum if she could have it. Her mum took the putty off her and said ”definitely not, putty is banned in our house”. She then proceeded to tell the owner that her son had asked to make slime the other day and she told him ‘absolutely not’, she said she does not do slime or play dough or anything messy in her house.
Of course, having a child who absolutely LOVES making slime I felt obliged to stick up for the sticky, gooey substance so I simply said “my daughter is the slime queen, we have glitter and glue all over the floor as we speak!” The mum turned to me and said “well you wouldn’t be saying that if it got stuck in your carpet, as it did in mine” then she said her goodbyes and left the shop.
The mum had a fair point, getting slime or play dough stuck in the carpet or painted hand prints on the walls is no fun. But I couldn’t help feel sad for the little girl.
I am really passionate about this because my 8 year old gets so much from messy and sensory play. She always has from a young age. She used to squish food in her hands to see how it felt and put things in her drink to see what would happen. So the thought of banning messy play for her is impossible
Rayne loves slime and has learnt so much from making it herself, things such as:
- problem solving – testing different ingredients and quantities to make the right consistency
- maths – quantities and measurements
- science – experiments, learning about compounds and chemicals
- vocabulary – she has learnt new words such as consistency, different describing words and textures etc
Making slime has also helped with her mindset as she has made loads of mistakes and can see that mistakes are part of learning.
My youngest isn’t too keen on slime but she loves painting. She has learnt how to mix colours and how she has to wait for one colour to dry before adding another on top.
We are big advocates of messy play and want to encourage you to give it a try. I hope my top 10 tips to keep messy play clean will be useful and inspire you to give it a go.
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Invest in a “messy play” mat
Have something in the house to use as a messy play mat. You can use a cheap shower curtain from the pound shop or a recycled table cloth from a kids party. I often ask mums what they are planning on doing with the table clothes and ask if I can take one!
If you need to tidy up quick you can just bunch everything up in the mat and deal with it later.
If you have a dining table you can put the mat on the floor under your child’s seat to catch any mess that falls on the floor.
Make slime in the kitchen
Most kitchen’s have flooring that is wipe-able so make it a slime safe space! Making slime is just like baking so get all the utensils and ingredients out and get making! Once the slime is made store it in an empty butter tub and let your child play with it on the kitchen floor.
Set some principles/rules
If your child is old enough to understand, be sure to set some principles, my daughter makes slime everyday and she knows she is not to take it upstairs or in the car! If they want to play with it in a room with carpet, pull out the messy play mat for them to sit and play on!
Do messy play in the bath!!
If your children are anything like mine it doesn’t take long before they have painted their hands or feet when the paints are out. If you are worried about having a trail of little blue hand or footprints going up the stairs when they go to wash their hands (yes this has happened to me) then why not start off where you want them to end by putting the paints and paper in the bathtub and letting them go wild!! You could even experiment with water colours!!
Once they have finished you can take the paints and their pieces of art out of the bath then clean them off before getting them out! Use some string and clothes pegs to hang up the paintings to dry.
There are loads of other messy play ideas for the bathtub including Gelli baff
Take messy play outside
In the warmer months set up a messy play station in the garden. My girls have hours of fun playing in the garden from mud kitchens to sensory rice.
In the colder months, wrap up warm, put waterproofs and wellies on and let them go squelching in the mud then wash off the wellies by splashing in big puddles!
Invest in a tuff tray
Our tuff tray makes messy play so much tidier. One of our principles is that slime is only to be made on the tuff tray. They have sides on them so the mess doesn’t fall off. They are great for art projects too.
Have a designated “messy play” area
If you do messy play at the same place every time, your children will start to associate that place with messy play, meaning the mess will be designated to one area in the house.
Use an old shirt as overalls
If you are worried about getting their clothes dirty use an old shirt as overalls by putting the shirt on your child backwards. If you do not have any shirts in the house, pick one up from a charity shop. They are easy to wash in the washing machine too
Keep it simple
Messy play does not have to be over complicated. If you are paining or playing with glitter, give them tiny amounts then replenish when needed. This really helps cut down the mess.
I bet your child would love it if you sat with them and got involved! Get them to teach you how to make slime, play with play dough and do some painting! Look at what your child is creating and think about what they are learning.