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Things To Do

Messy Play Ideas with your Grandchildren over the Summer Holidays

Things To Do

posted July 22nd 2019

We asked our friends over at Tots Play for some ideas on what to do with our grandchildren this summer and here’s what they shared with us.

The summer holidays, we wait for them all year and when they arrive so does the unsettled weather and the realisation that you need to find some kind of entertainment and stimulation for 6 long weeks. Days out and activities are great fun but not always practical or possible, so what can you do indoors?

Educational tasks, drawing, arts and crafts and the TV are all options but what about something a little different and lots of fun? Why not try some Messy Play! Does the thought send shivers down your spine? Where do you start? How messy are we talking? What benefits could messy play possibly have? Well read on and let’s talk all things Messy Play!

Messy Play is fantastic for children as it provides a learning opportunity through unstructured play, they have the opportunity to play using their imagination as the beauty of messy play is there is no right or wrong way to play. Not only does it allow freedom to explore all possibilities but it allows you to play using all of your senses. The benefits don’t stop there Messy play has a place in developing creative, cognitive, language, physical and social and emotional development, who knew getting messy could do all of these things! The beauty of Messy Play is it is all about exploring a process that often does not result in an end product, It has all of the benefits mentioned above but overall it is simply just fun!

To get the, most out of the Messy play experience for you and your grandchild then it is important to engage in the process with them and to learn from and with them instead of simply setting it up and standing back to watch. Ask open ended questions as you play together to enhance they play and move it forward at time without interrupting play or the use of their own imagination, questions like “I wonder why that happened?” or “I wonder what will happen if …?”

So now you know just how amazing Messy Play can be, what can you do? Below is a list of possible activities, while we have listed lots of tried and tested activities this list is not exhaustive and many, many more ideas can be found on the internet or in idea books in your local library. You may like to start small, with a little of some of the food items on a high chair tray. Put down a messy mat or even use the bath tub to give the opportunity for wider exploration.

Pasta and spaghetti – uncooked pasta for threading onto wool or string, cooked spaghetti for a great tactile experience. (you can also dye the spaghetti various colours with food colouring while cooking it)

Jelly – Always fun to squish, make it green and add some toy frogs for an instant slimy frog pond.

Corn flour – make gloop by adding water, this is fun and has an element of science to it. The gloop is solid when in the tray but once you pick up a handful it turns to liquid. Add food colouring to make it blue for an ocean scene or green and add dinosaurs and leave for a pre historic swamp

Flour – in a tray for writing and drawing in with your fingers or paintbrushes and forks or other utensils. In a larger tuff tray or small paddling pool to jump and roll about in or to do the above on a larger scale.

Flour – mixed with water to make dough add in pieces of chopped dried fruit to make a cake dough mixture.

Pre made dough – cut into small pieces and make mini pizzas or have a selection of herbs to cut up or tear to make dough cakes (these smell amazing).

Rice – can be used dry as it is, dry and add food colouring to make it more interesting or cooked for a different sensory experience.

Foam – shaving foam is a fun and cheap option, spray into a small paddling pool and add small plastic ball pit balls, balloons, rainbow drop sweets, coloured rice (basically anything you wish) or leave as it is and let them explore.

Slime – there are so many recipes out there now for various types of slime to choose from and many that don’t contain harmful chemicals. If you don’t feel like making your own you can buy readymade slimes including some that you add to a bath for that extra bit of fun.

Cereal – this is such a versatile and fairly cheap way to do messy play and used in so many fun ways. Thread cheerio’s onto pipe cleaners or uncooked spaghetti (hold upright in play dough), make a crunchy farmyard out of various types of cereal and use Weetabix as hay bales, or use the same idea and add safari animals with a watering hole of blue jelly.

Paint – apart from hand a foot prints let the children smear and roll around in the paint, use different colours to see how they mix with their hands. Uses cars or dinosaurs and animals to make tracks and footprints in the paint. Get a fly swat and let them splat the paint (I recommend doing this outside) use forks, potato mashers and other utensils for printing and making marks in the paint.

Water play – children just love to pour and play in the water, you can use this activity over and over again, just add various items to keep it interesting, chop fruits like lemon and lime to make nature soup, add tea bags, cups and saucers, go fishing in the water, add boats or wash a doll. The options and ideas are endless.

Want to have something to enjoy at the end then why not decorate biscuits or cupcakes, make jam sandwiches for a teddies bear’s picnic afterwards. Make rainbow bread; add food colouring to any type on milk in a bowl and paint onto the bread. Toast the bread to make a delicious colourful snack.

Not brave enough to try messy play in the house? Then take it outside! Make mud pies, jump in puddles, use the soil or sand pits for digging and hiding treasure, use guttering, pipes and water wheels for a water course or slide cars or balls down the pipes in a race. Take any of the above activities mentioned above and do them outside for an easier clean up and less chance of it getting over the freshly cleaned floor.

Try a Sensory Based Class
If you like the idea of some of the above, but don’t want to set up (and clean up!) yourself, then you could also look for a class or group that offers sensory or messy play ideas to take your grandchild along to. These will normally offer a range of experiences and are a great way to get out and enjoy special time together.

We incorporate several of these into our classes at Tots Play, along with offering a range of other experiences such as musical and physical activities at sessions tailored especially for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Many of our venues have sessions running on selected dates through the summer holidays in addition to their regular weekly classes with summer inspired messy and sensory play from teddy bear’s picnics, to beach parties or maybe even a festival.

We love to welcome grandparents to our classes and here is just a small selection of the feedback we have received from those who have brought their grandchildren along;

“I feel that looking after my Grandson is a privilege not an obligation and feel proud that his parents trust me to look after their most precious boy. Attending Tots Play with Freddie is a wonderful opportunity for us both to socialise, discover the world and most importantly learn through heuristic and sensory play. By handling and exploring these everyday objects Freddie is beginning to make his own choices and decisions and it is helping him gain an understanding of the world around him. I would definitely recommend the group to family and friends.”

“Bringing our grandchild to Tots Play gives her the benefit of being able to experience a range of stimulating, exciting activities and resources in an environment away from home. She is able to interact with other children and their parents/ carers and begin to respond to others, including the session leader. Being able to bring her gives us the opportunity to see how she responds to a different environment and how she interacts with others. It enables us to meet other families and to have conversations with other grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren, picking up tips and ideas along the way.”

If you would like to find out more about Tots Play classes in your area, or come and try out a summer fun session please visit our website, where you be able to find .
Happy Playing!

Whether at a class or group or with the time you share with them at home we hope the above has given you many ideas to make the holidays lots of fun with the grandchildren. Enjoy this special time and Happy Playing!

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