Take the mess outside with these engaging outdoor messy play ideas. Be sure to check out my epic list of messy play ideas for even more fun for the kids.
Below you’ll find over 20 messy art and sensory activities that are perfect for the outdoors. The kids can really get into the messiness, and you can rest assured clean up will be a little easier.
If the weather permits, your students will definitely appreciate the fresh air and sunshine as they play. That’s why spring and summer are often the best times to set up messy play outside.
But don’t let the cooler temperatures during fall and winter dissuade you! You can still bring the mess outdoors, even if there’s some snow on the ground. Just make sure everyone’s wearing appropriate clothes.
Why Take the Messy Play Outside?
There are a lot of reasons to take the messiness outdoors! To begin with, getting kids out in the fresh air has a multitude of benefits – from Vitamin D exposure to better sleep to more movement.
In addition to that, being outside gives the children a bigger area to explore the messy projects. That leads to a bit less pressure and more room for moving. It also allows more kids to participate at any one time.
And then there’s the MESS in the outdoor messy play ideas. Being outside sure seems to make clean-up a lot easier, doesn’t it? Often a hose and good water pressure is all you need to get it done.
Plus, isn’t it just nice to get outside? For no other reason than to enjoy the outdoors?!
Materials for Messy Outdoor Play
Here are some supplies you might want when trying the messy play ideas (I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.):
I suggest taking a peek at the ideas below and picking a few you want to try with the kids. Then make a list of the supplies you’ll need. Double-check your teacher supply closet before running out to grab additional materials. That way you don’t end up with duplicates – or am I the only one who runs into that issue?
Outdoor Messy Play Ideas
Now let’s take a look at the messy outdoor fun. I’ve broken them down into two simple categories – art activities, and then sensory and science activities. This way, you can find exactly the idea you’re looking for!
Have fun checking it all out. To read more details about each activity, click on the individual links. You’ll get to see more pictures while you’re there, too.
Messy Art Outside
Let’s get started with some art ideas to try outside. Your students can get creative while enjoying the great outdoors!
Try something a little different with coconut process art. In addition to the messy art fun, the kids get a lot of gross motor practice.
Explore science and art concepts with shadow sidewalk chalk art.
I can’t talk about outdoor messy play ideas without touching on swing painting process art! This is one of my favorite messy art ideas.
Give snow painting a go during the winter. Snow makes a wonderful canvas for the kids.
Grab a simple shower curtain so the kids can try shower curtain painting. Super easy, open-ended art with lots of messy potential.
Create a car painting for kids art invitation. Every year that we’ve painted a car (yes, a real car!), the children have had an amazing time!
Combine a scavenger hunt and a messy craft with this build a nest activity.
During the winter, try snow painting with water balloons!
Make a water shooter tie-dye blanket with your students. What a great collaborative project! Then you can use the blanket for some class picnics.
Put a painting wall up outside!
If you’re really adventurous, let the kids paint themselves! Honestly, they’ll likely try with many of the other activities here. And they have such a great time with it!
Teach the kids three ways to paint in the rain. Yes, you can incorporate some outdoor messy play ideas into your plans even on rainy days!
After a rainy day, try some mud art with the kids. You can incorporate some simple tools and other natural materials if you’d like.
Grab some washable paint and try stomp and splash art.
Outdoor Messy Sensory Play
Next up are some great sensory experiences to take outside. Let the kids immerse themselves fully in all the fun.
Try out one of our international mud day activities. Even if it’s just putting mud in a wheelbarrow and letting the kids play!
Let your chefs-in-training make mud soup outside! Don’t forget to ask their recipes when they’re done cooking.
Help the kids make a river on the playground or in the sandpit.
Set up a giant shaving cream rainbow for your students. What an awesome messy sensory invitation!
Let the kids go all-in with this shaving cream messy play setup. They might even make it a full-body experience.
Invite the children to explore a giant baking soda and vinegar experiment together. Lots of colorful, fizzing fun.
The kids will love a shaving cream slip ‘n slide!
And I’m betting a colorful shaving cream slide will yield the same results.
Set up a sensory play party, chock full of moon sand cupcakes.
Finally, a mud kitchen is sure to inspire a ton of messy play outside.
Which of these outdoor messy play ideas are you going to try first? Be sure to save this post for future reference!
Even More Outdoor Activities
Here are additional activities you can try outside:
- Outdoor Number Activities
- Creating Your Own Outdoor Classroom
- Garden Messy Play
- Outdoor Literacy Activities
- Texture Scavenger Hunt Outside
They’re perfect additions to all of the above outdoor messy play ideas!
Done-For-You Preschool Resources
Let Preschool Teacher 101 save you a ton of time with fully-developed preschool resources. We have lesson plans, dramatic play packs, STEM challenges, digital games, literacy activities, math games, and more.
Click on the image below to check out our alphabet letter mats that come with over 100 art ideas:
Here are even more ideas for your preschool classroom:
You can also find us on Teachers Pay Teachers.