Are you ready to learn how to minimize mess with messy play sensory play? Just because something falls into the “messy play” category doesn’t mean that it has to be ACTUALLY messy. Messy play is more about having objects or activities that the kids can feel and use their senses on, but it’s easy to keep the actual space that they’re playing in clean!
Make certain to check out my Easy Mess-Free Non Sticky Slime Recipe for a slime that toes the line between messy play and mess-free.
What is messy play?
It’s just like it sounds. Messy play is usually an activity that is focused and centered on kids playing and getting messy using their senses. Most times they’re using their hands to feel items or be creative.
Who benefits from messy play?
Younger children benefit greatly from messy play because it helps them learn while feeling. Sensory play is a great way to build curiosity, imagination, and more.
I will say though that my older kids STILL love messy play almost as much as the younger ones!
How To Minimize Mess With Messy Play Sensory Play
Worrying about a mess to clean up isn’t fun but it shouldn’t stop you from keeping the kids from certain sensory activities. I’ve found that there is always some sort of compromise that can happen to keep the kids active and to keep the clean-up time to a minimum.
Below are a few ideas that you can easily do at home to minimize mess with messy play sensory play.
Use a tray to contain the mess
A plastic tub or even an old sand and water table is the perfect way to hold all that mess inside.
As you can see from this DIY Sensory Foam Play Recipe, a tray works great in holding in all the suds.
When we created our Alphabet Slap activity, we were able to set it up outside and create a great space for it at the same time.
Lay down an old blanket or a sheet
I never get rid of torn or stained sheets because they still have so much life left in them. I just keep them stored on my closet shelf for messy play days.
Once we set up an activity, I have the kids sit on the sheet that I’ve laid out on the floor. Then once they’re done playing, I can easily just scoop it up and toss it right into the wash.
We make sensory bins quite a bit in our house and laying down a sheet has ALWAYS worked. Some of our favorite sensory bins are: Sight Word Practice Sensory Table Bin, Christmas Sensory Bin, Airplane Sensory Bin, Farm Sensory Bin
Utilize the shower floor or bathtub
Anything having to do with water messy play has a very high probability that there is going to be water splashed about. If you have a shower floor big enough, that is a great space for the kids to sit and play, as is the bathtub, too.
Save old clothes for messy play days
Forget about style and fashion when it comes to messy play. We have “play clothes” for the kids that they can put on and it just makes the entire activity stress-free.
It doesn’t matter if they get more stains on them or not because that is exactly what the clothes are for.
Set up a space outdoors
I actually love to do messy play outside if at all possible because there are so many great benefits. This gives the kids the chance to be as messy as they want, and it means that I don’t have to do a ton of clean-up either. Keeping the house clean is a good thing when I’m running low on time.
I also love getting them outside because of the benefits of the sunshine and fresh air. Being cooped up indoors isn’t fun for anyone so we try to find ways to get outside at least once per day.
During the warmer months of the year, I pick out something daily from this list of 50 Summer Activities for Kids.
Have the kids be part of the cleanup crew
I’m always amazed at how much more careful the kids become once they know that they’ll be cleaning up the mess with me. I just let them know casually that once playtime is done, we’ll all be working as a team to clean up the area together.
I also think that it’s important that they understand that when making a mess, they need to be ready to clean it up, too.
As you can see, there are ways to clean up messy play easily without it overshadowing the activities!
More Fun Sensory Activities for Kids
- Easy Confetti Moon Dough Recipe Perfect for Sensory Play
- Water Beads Fun Sensory Bin!
- Unicorn Sensory Bin