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!
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
You can’t have a list of messy play ideas without talking about sensory play. It’s just not possible.
Here are 10 messy sensory play ideas for you and the kids to try this summer.
Related: Sidewalk Chalk Ideas and Recipes
Creepy Crawly Slime
This creepy crawly slime recipe was inspired by dirt, which makes the kids gleefully scream “eeewwww!” as they dig their hands in. Add some insect toys and watch the fun ensue.
Ocean Sensory Play | No Time for Flash Cards
Summer’s a perfect time to bring out ocean-themed activities. This gelatin-based sensory bin engages so many of the senses in a unique way.
We’re a big fan of fizzing experiments! So our sand volcano science activity was definitely a hit. Add some taste-safe play sand to make these “volcanoes” even more entertaining.
Frozen Oobleck | Inspiration Laboratories
The kids can whip up a simple batch of oobleck, then toss everything into the freezer. What a fun exploration of science and sensory play.
Jell-O Soap Foam
This Jell-O soap foam sensory play was an immense hit with my son and my preschoolers. Definitely one of our favorite messy play ideas! The Jell-O added beautiful colors and a fun scent to this messy sensory activity.
Muddy Race Car Derby | Small Potatoes
Wow, I know some car loving kiddos who will have such a blast with this one! The “muddy” paint is a perfect medium for a muddy toy car race.
Coconut Cloud Dough
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.
Soap Fluff | The Imagination Tree
This super messy activity will make the kids giggle as they cover themselves in soap fluff!
Soapy Sea Foam | Twodaloo
A simple setup, but such an engaging experience for the kids. Add some ocean-themed toys to beautifully-colored soap foam and let the children get at it.
Whipped Cream Sensory Play
This whipped cream sensory play is great when little ones are playing. It’s a taste-safe version of shaving cream exploration, and it was well-loved by some of my toddler buds.
Art and Crafts 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?
Here are 10 ideas for some art ideas to try with the kids this summer. Keep in mind, they might get a little bit messy (and that’s okay!).
Related: Winter Messy Play Ideas
Big Art Painting with Your Feet | Fun At Home with Kids
We’ve tried this big art painting outside and it was an amazing hit with the kids! Something about trying art in a different way tickled the kids to no end.
Sand Painting | Meri Cherry
Beautiful colors and textures are sure to engage the kids’ senses with this sand art project!
This old-school pet rocks art project is simple and great for a camping-themed summer camp. It’s a must-have when you’re collecting messy play ideas for your summer to-do list.
Exploding Art | Housing a Forest
I know many kiddos who’d love to combine science and art in such a combustible way! Lay down large pieces of paper, canvas, or cloth to capture the explosive art.
Paint with Frozen Paint Cubes | Hands On As We Grow
We’ve tried this a few different times, both at preschool and at home. Painting with frozen paint is a great way for little artists to create and cool down on a hot summer day.
Fireworks Splat Art
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).
Crushed Chalk Painting | Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine
Love that the kids get to hammer chalk before mixing it together to make chalk paint. They can use the art to create on sidewalks temporarily or on paper to keep.
Rubber Band Snap Painting | Teach Preschool
What kid doesn’t enjoy flicking rubber bands? Add some paint to the rubber bands and that makes it tremendously more fun!
Painting with Coconuts
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.
Swing Painting | Homegrown Friends
Another hit when we tried it at preschool summer camp. Big movements, the swing, and getting to paint on the playground equaled a big win with the kiddos. You can’t have a list of messy play ideas without this one on it!
What are some of your favorite summer messy play ideas for kids! Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments below.
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:
Cleaning Up After Messy Play
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.
What are some of your kids’ favorite messy play ideas?