Don’t let the cooler weather keep you away from all of the messy fun. Check out over 30 fall messy play ideas below! Be sure to check out this huge list of messy play ideas for even more fun!
Related: Fall Activities for Preschoolers
Fall is my absolute favorite season, hands down!
The leaves changing color, the summer heat finally ebbing away, and more excuses to curl up under a blanket with a good book. I could list so many reasons for loving fall.
While you might not consider it, fall is a great time to break out the messy play with the kids.
It’s especially helpful on those fall days when the kids are squirrelly but the weather isn’t conducive to running around outside.
Fall Messy Play Ideas
Why are messy play experiences perfect for your little squirrels during the fall?
Because they’re open-ended and incredibly engaging for children! (I do have to throw it out there that older kids and adults get a kick out of these ideas, too.)
Because the art and sensory play are open-ended, the kids get to decide how long the creative process lasts. And there are just so many possibilities for each of these ideas.
Plus, messy play activities engage the kids’ senses as they explore.
And to top it all off . . . messy play is just plain fun! That aspect definitely shouldn’t be discounted.
Sensory Messy Play Ideas for Fall
Here are some messy sensory play ideas you’re going to want to try with the kids this fall.
Because you can’t have a list of messy play ideas without including sensory play.
You just can’t.
Related: Winter Messy Play Ideas
Start things off with a deconstructed scarecrow sensory bin!
Create a scented apple sensory bin using dyed chickpeas and apple pie spice.
Pumpkin seed slime is an amazing hands-on sensory and science activity for the fall.
A little red hen sensory bin is a great complement to the classic children’s story.
Teach the children how to dye pumpkin seeds and then make a colorful sensory bin with them.
Another fall book-based sensory bin is this Stellaluna activity with dyed pasta and chickpeas.
Toss together a colorful fall water sensory bin for the kids to splash in.
If you have any candy corn, use it to make candy corn slime for the children.
Break out the applesauce oobleck during your next preschool apple theme.
Pumpkin spice play dough is just the sensory play invitation to engage the kids this fall.
Set up a fall trees rainbow oats sensory bin for scooping and pouring fun.
Pumpkin moon sand is a messy sensory activity you can make with a few household materials. Don’t forget the pumpkin cookie cutters!
Let the kids make their own oobleck and leaves concoctions for maximum fall messiness.
The children can easily mix up some pumpkin fluff with just a few ingredients. I’m sure it smells delightful too.
Grab leftover pumpkins and put together a pumpkin boats sensory bin.
Arty Fall Messy Play Ideas
And we can’t leave art out of the messy play list, can we?
Because, as we all know, art can get pretty messy. Especially when kids are involved! Or when I’m involved, if we’re being honest.
Related: Summer Messy Play Ideas
Let the kids use old corn cobs to create their own corn painting this fall.
Break out the leftover pumpkin seeds for this fall painting for kids idea.
Engage the children’s sense of smell with some spicy apple art.
Make acorn art with acorns your little squirrels have collected.
This turkey tracks turkey art is an absolute blast around Thanksgiving.
Let the kids use their hands, along with fall-colored paint, to make their own fall hand print art that explores negative space.
The children can make their own turkey salt painting with just a few simple, and messy, materials.
Children will really get their hands messy as they create marbled paint resist fall trees.
This autumn process art is a wonderful blend of natural items and colorful paint.
Fizzy paint apples are a fun mix of art and science.
Help the children explore color mixing with a pumpkin art activity.
The addition of table scatter to this fall shaving cream art adds another sensory aspect to the art.
Use parts of the pumpkin to make pumpkin fall trees with the kids.
Crayon shavings make the perfect medium for beautiful fall art.
Puffy paint pumpkins are a must-have on a list of fall messy art ideas!
Make pine cone process art with the kids after going on a nature walk to collect some goodies.
What are some of YOUR favorite fall messy play ideas? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Clean Up Tips
Once the kids have thoroughly explored all of the messy fall art and sensory activities, it’s time to clean up.
I know this aspect of messy play is what often turns adults off of the idea. But it doesn’t have to be scary, I promise!
Here are a few tips for making clean-up easier:
- Get the kids involved! Make the clean-up process silly and fun so the children get into it. Teach them how to use brooms and dust pans.
- Have a few supplies on-hand for messes. Paper towels and baby wipes are perfect for wiping up spills and messy hands prior to washing hands.
- Lay a good foundation! Put a tablecloth over work tables or underneath sensory bins.
- Cover up! Make sure the children are wearing clothes that can get messy. And have smocks on-hand as needed.
- Take the messy play outside when the fall weather permits it. Sometimes that makes messy play easier to clean up.
Don’t be scared of messy play this fall! Just have a plan going in.
Materials for Your Fall Messy Play
I’m a big proponent of using the materials you already have on-hand for many kids’ activities.
But just in case you’re looking for some extra supplies, here are a few ideas to get you started (I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post):
Done-For-You Fall Resources
With all the time you’ll be spending on these fall messy play ideas, your planning time might be a bit crunched. Let Preschool Teacher 101 help with done-for-you lesson plans and other teaching resources.
Click on the images below for more information: