Summer is THE perfect time to break out the messy play for the kids! Check out 20 summer messy play ideas below.
Related: Spring Messy Play Activities
Summer is here!
I seriously love teaching preschool, I do. But I’m also rather fond of summer’s lack of alarm clocks, its simpler schedule, and the fact that I get more time with my kiddo.
Of course, summer sometimes brings a case of “I’m bored” from children of all ages.
That’s where these awesome messy play ideas come in!
Summer Messy Play Ideas
Why are messy experiences the summer cure-all?
The sensory and art experiences below are all open-ended and incredibly engaging for kids (and adults, too).
Kids can decide how long the fun lasts, and there are so many directions these activities can take.
Messy play has a huge sensory impact too. Children can explore many of their senses while playing and exploring.
On top of that, messy play is just plain fun.
Preschool summer camps and sunny summer days at home are perfect for messy sensory and art play.
Sensory Messy Play Ideas for Summer
You can’t have a list of messy play ideas without talking about sensory play.
It’s just not possible.
Here are messy sensory play ideas for you and the kids to try this summer.
Related: Sidewalk Chalk Ideas and Recipes
Make this creepy crawly slime recipe and listen to the kids gleefully scream “eeewwww!” as they dig their hands in. Add some insect toys and watch the fun ensue.
Set up some fizzing sensory and science fun with a sand volcano science activity. Add some taste-safe play sand to make these “volcanoes” even more entertaining.
Create your own colorful Jell-O soap foam sensory play and wow the kids’ sense of smell. It is one of our favorite messy play ideas!
This tropical-scented, taste-safe coconut cloud dough is perfect for your list of summer messy play ideas. It’s crumbly, pack-able and the kids can add coconut shells and little umbrellas to set the scene.
Whipped cream sensory play is a taste-safe version of shaving cream exploration, and it was well-loved by some of my toddler buds.
Put together an ocean-themed gelatin-based sensory bin that engages so many of the senses in a unique way.
Whip up a simple batch of oobleck, then toss everything into the freezer.
Car loving kids love this muddy toy car race.
This super messy activity makes the kids giggle as they cover themselves in soap fluff!
Art Summer Messy Play Ideas
Art and crafts can definitely be a bit messy, especially when you get the kids involved.
And, really, aren’t the just a little bit more fun because of the messiness?
Related: Winter Messy Play Ideas
An old-school pet rocks art project is simple and a must-have when you’re collecting messy play ideas for your summer to-do list.
Let the kids go wild as they fling and splat sparkly paint to make fireworks! This splat art fireworks painting is great around July 4th (or anytime really).
Painting with coconuts is a big movement art activity that had the kids laughing so hard the entire time! Think of marble painting, but on a grander scale.
Paint an old car is an amazing summer art project for the kids!
We’ve tried this big art painting with your feet and it was an amazing hit with the kids!
Beautiful colors and textures engage the kids’ senses with this sand art project!
Let the kids combine science and art with this exploding art. Lay down large pieces of paper, canvas, or cloth to capture it.
Painting with frozen paint is a great way for little artists to create and cool down on a hot summer day. We’ve tried it many times, both at preschool and at home.
What kid doesn’t enjoy flicking rubber bands? Add some paint to the rubber bands and that makes it tremendously more fun!
Swing painting process art is another hit when we tried it at preschool summer camp.
What are some of your favorite summer messy play ideas for kids! Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments below.
Cleaning Up After Messy Play
While these summer messy play ideas are very inspiring, they’re also . . . well . . . messy!
Which means we need to talk cleanup.
Here are some tips for getting things back into place after all the fun:
- Make sure the kids are wearing play clothes that can get messy.
- If possible, take the messy play fun outside! Less mess in the classroom or home.
- Hose things down if you’re outside.
- Put down a tarp or plastic tablecloth if you’re inside. Then take the mess outside to clean off.
- If the kids are far from a sink, use wipes to clean off the bulk of the mess. Then have the kids get to a sink once they’re not spreading the mess everywhere.
This post was originally a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wet Ones® Hand Wipes (in August 2016). The post has since been updated. The opinions and text, as always, are all mine.
Materials for Your Summer Messy Play
You can definitely use whatever you have on-hand to get your messy summer activities started!
I highly suggest you don’t overthink it.
The kids will show you how to use your materials to create some awesomely messy play projects.
But if you’re looking for some inspiration, here are a few items to get you started:
Preschool Summer Lesson Plans
Here are some ideas for your summer camp plans: