Since you probably can’t beat the mess, might as well join it. By skillfully planning messy activities, you may be able to avoid some of the unexpected messy adventures that your preschooler gets into behind your back. Just hose him off when he’s done.
Handing some paint to a preschooler equals messy fun. If the weather is nice and warm, throw a bathing suit on your child. Mix some baby bubble bath or shampoo with some cornstarch until it thickens up a bit. Pour some of the mixture into a handful of empty applesauce cups and add a drop of food coloring to each one. Now let her finger paint her body or maybe your legs and feet. If she has a little friend or sibling, that can also be a blank canvas. Maybe keep her away from the cat, however. If you want an indoor activity, throw an old sheet down on the floor and a paint shirt on your little one. Pour some washable tempera paint into some pie tins and let her do hand prints, animals or any other painting creation. Sponge painting is fun, too — and so is painting pictures with pudding.
Who doesn’t like a mud pie now and then? A fresh rain and the sandbox is the mud pie bakery. Give him some empty pie tins or old plastic dishes and let him scoop the mud around. Throw on some rain boots and the two of you can go mud puddle hopping. See who can make the biggest splash. If you’re feeling up to it, put some sandals on you and your child and walk through the mud. Talk about how funny it feels to squish between your toes.
Sensory Table Activities
Let your child sink her fingers into this messy activity. Set up a sensory table or wide, shallow plastic bin out on the lawn. Fill it with something ooey and gooey. She’ll enjoy squeezing and playing with cooked noodles, prepared oatmeal or pudding. For some kid-friendly puffy soap play, throw one part gentle soap flakes and three parts warm water into a mixing bowl. Fluff it up with a handheld mixer. Divide it into a few different plastic bowls, add a few drops of food coloring to each and mix again. Set the bowls in the sensory table and let your child mix them together to make new colors or she can just play around with the stuff.
Bubbles are a child’s best friend. Fill a kiddy pool with warm water and pour in a bunch of children’s bubble bath so the bubbles are almost overflowing. Throw a swimsuit on your preschooler and let him hop in. He can make new hairstyles or beards. Throw a hula hoop in the water, have him stand in the middle and pull the hula hoop slowly over him. It may take a few tries, but you might be able to put him inside a huge bubble for a few seconds. He can splash and kick all he likes — and you don’t have to worry about mopping up the bathroom floor. You could also fill a baking sheet or shallow, wide plastic bin with water and bubble mix. Grab bubble wands, green produce containers, wire hangers, straws, tennis rackets or any other device you think might make bubbles. Let your child make bubbles to his heart’s content. By the end, he may actually look like a walking bubble.