Getting messy with your kids is important for developing many aspects of their health – from their biological immunity to their sense of curiosity! Messy play doesn’t need to be dangerous to your children or soft furnishings. Read on for some messy play ideas, as well as cleaning tips for afterwards.
Children under the age of eight are rarely the neatest of painters, so embrace the opportunity to help them develop some finer motor skills. Potato printing is an ideal candidate. First, paint-proof an area. You’ll need plastic tablecloths, or plastic dustsheets of the sort used in decorating. Tape them around your tables to avoid mishaps. Make sure there are plenty of paper towels at hand, and a clear route to the nearest sink. Before you start, use a knife to halve several potatoes, then use the tip of the knife to carve raised shapes into the exposed flesh. Try simple geometric shapes to start with, or letters and numbers if you feel a little more confident. Mind your fingers! The raised stamp should stand about a centimetre clear of the surrounding surface.
Now it’s time to get messy. Pour water-based poster paint into shallow dishes or saucers, dress your kids in old clothes, lay out some large sheets of paper, and ask them to make a picture. They need only gently dip their potato stamps into the paint before pressing it into the paper. After a few goes they’ll get the hang of it! You could try prompting them to use the stamps to create animals, buildings or landscapes. When they’re done, place the paintings somewhere high up to dry, and wash your kids before you wash anything else.
Your kids can make their own stamps for painting as soon as they’re old enough to use safety-scissors. Find some inexpensive sponges (a couple of centimetres thick) in a bargain shop, and set them to work cutting out their own shapes. These stamps can be washed out and reused, or even made from old kitchen sponges, so are ideal for a quick lesson on recycling!
Another easy paint-based activity to try is marble painting. For this, you’ll need an old roasting tray, some saucers of paint, some paper, and a few marbles. Follow the same paint-proofing procedure as before, making sure to allow free access to the sink to wash the marbles. Cut some thick pieces of paper to fit inside the roasting tin.
To paint, coat a marble in a single colour of water-based poster paint, and drop it into the tray on top of a piece of paper. Show your kids how to tip the tin and make the marble roll across the paper, leaving a trail of paint. They’ll need refreshing occasionally! This activity acts like a ball-bearing puzzle, helping kids to develop coordination and patience, while getting messy in the process. Take a look online for more messy play ideas to help your children learn and grow. Try holding a competition to see who can make the prettiest pattern. Of course, everyone gets a prize in the form of a lovely painting, and a satisfying mess! Watch out for marbles dropping onto tiled floors, as they do occasionally break – a high-sided roasting tin is safest.
These techniques are ideal for getting your kids covered in paint, while producing something colourful and fun that they can be proud of. Then…tidy up.