These easy messy play ideas prove that messy play doesn’t have to be complicated! Keep the messy play ideas in your back pocket for days when you need some inspiration but don’t have a lot of time or materials.
While I enjoy playful invitations that take a little bit more to set up, I’m also a very big fan of EASY. Simple messy play can be just as engaging as those that are more in-depth. Young children are still learning and exploring their world with simpler activities.
In fact, sometimes simpler is better because there’s even more room for the kids’ imaginations to shine. Because messy play is all about open-ended experiences, right?!
So if you’re looking for fun ideas the kids will love, but don’t want over-complicated setups, I’ve got you covered.
What is Easy Messy Play?
For this collection, I went with messy play ideas that are simple. I didn’t want anything super ornate, and I didn’t want anything with too many ingredients. I also steered clear of activities with specialized materials.
To meet my qualifications, each activity:
- Has 3 ingredients or less
- Uses items that are easy to find
- Can be set up in less than 10 minutes
Some of the easy messy play ideas use even less ingredients and take even less time to set up!
Materials for the Messy Fun
As I just mentioned, I really wanted to keep the materials list simple. There’s no point in calling it easy if you have to special order the ingredients!
Here are some of the ingredients you might want on-hand for your easy messy play (I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post):
- Washable paint
- Shaving cream
- Bubble wrap
- Washable kids’ toys
- Pom poms
You might even have most of the needed materials in your teacher supply closet already! That’s another benefit of these easy messy play ideas – you can tweak them to suit what you DO have already.
Easy Messy Play Ideas
Now let’s dive into the simple messy play! Click on each of the individual links to read more in-depth descriptions of each activity (and see more pictures!). Choose the ideas that you think your students would be the most interested in. Or pick and choose the activities that you know you already have the supplies for.
Super Simple Messy Play
Well, I had to have a category for the VERY easy messy play, didn’t I? Because some materials are just inherently messy. So you can use them on their own for tons of fun and engaging exploration.
For the simplest of all messy play activities, try using one of the materials below:
- Shaving cream
- Cooked (and cooled) spaghetti
- Finger paint
- Water beads
First, pick a material from the above list. Next, lay down a tarp or a sheet. Then, take the material you’ve chosen, place it in a bin or a tray, and let the kids get into it!
If you have little ones, choose the more taste-safe options. Or swap things out. For example, whipped cream is a good swap for shaving cream. And finger paint can be made with taste-safe materials.
Easy Messy Art
Now, let’s take a look at some easy messy play ideas that revolve around art. These activities are perfect for those students who love adding a creative flair to what they do.
Try letting the kids paint with small, washable toys. You might be surprised at how much fun they have with it! Here are two examples:
Make a confetti collage using all those leftover hole punch scraps. I love how this idea incorporated having the kids make the “confetti” first.
Try painting on foil with the kids. The foil adds a different sensory feel to the painting process, and it shows the kids art isn’t only done with paper.
Bubble wrap painted fruits and vegetables adds some fun texture to the messy art. You can change things up to make
Grab those toy cars and trucks for some super simple transportation art.
Foam sticker roller painting is easily adjusted based on your students’ interests. Just switch out the stickers you use!
The classic, well-loved raised salt painting is part art, part science, and all fun.
Simple Messy Sensory Play
We can’t talk about easy messy play ideas without touching on sensory play, right? So I put together a few sensory activities that aren’t any less engaging for their simplicity.
Explore the color yellow with a rubber duck sensory bin. You can expand on this idea with a variety of other color-themed bins, too!
Set up a scene in the sky with a dragon small world play. I love that it doesn’t take many materials to make such an enchanting invitation to play.
Make a soapy, simple slime recipe for the kids to get their hands into. I love how easy this “slime” is to put together, and I bet the texture is so interesting.
Put together an oats sensory play invitation for the kids with just a few materials. Then let the kids compare the sensory experience of wet versus dry oats.
Despite the name of the activity, clean the cars definitely deserves to be a part of this list of easy messy play ideas. Because, in order to clean those cars . . . they need to be dirty and messy first.
Add some soap for an incredibly easy water-based scented spring sensory bin. All those soap bubbles are sure make the kids giggle as they play.
Create a frozen pom pom sensory bin for the kids. I can guarantee that the kids will be engaged for a while with this one!
Easy Messy Science
And finally, let’s take a look at some science activities that are both messy AND easy.
Probably the simplest is a tub full of baking soda. Then let the kids at it with squeeze bottles full of vinegar. You can spice things up a few different ways:
- Add Jell-O powder and turn it into a color mixing experiment.
- Incorporate cookie cutters and food coloring for a thematic activity, like this Easter baking soda and vinegar experiment.
- Tweak things a bit to make an icy rescue Han Solo Lego Star Wars science activity.
The classic Skittle experiment is definitely one to try with the kids. There’s tons of room to test it out different ways, and so many messy opportunities to play along the way.
Turn a favorite Easter treat into Peeps slime. This one is a great combination of science and sensory play!
You don’t need much to explore the magic milk experiment with the children. You can explore mixing colors and color identification during the experiment, too.
Now, the question is which of these easy messy play ideas are you going to try first? Be sure to pin this post for future reference.
More Easy Preschool Ideas
Here are a few more simple activity collections for you:
- Fun art projects for kids
- Science experiments for kids at home
- Easy math activities
- Early literacy activities
- Simple sensory activities
Done-For-You Preschool Resources
Let Preschool Teacher 101 save you a ton of time with fully-developed preschool resources – from lesson plans to dramatic play to STEM challenges, and more. Click on the images below to find out more:
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