Ok, let me start of by saying the thought of messy play used to be something that would send me over the edge! Let me assure you the fun and educational opportunities it provides for children, I now know far out weigh my hatred of mess! so much so I even discovered you could have fun with a cat litter tray!
Whilst browsing through Pintrest I came across the term ‘Messy Play.’ Messy play potentially uses all the senses to encourage creativity and aid children’s cognitive development. This sounded complicated but I quickly found it wasn’t as long as you embrace the mess! (do buy some protective plastic sheeting though!)
I had to find a way to contain the mess. At the time money was tight for us. This in mind I headed off to B&M Bargains armed with a £5 note. I didn’t know what I was looking for but spotted a blue tray in the pet section, turned out to be a cat litter tray! Now please don’t get me wrong the best use for a cat litter tray is for our feline ‘friends’ to use as a toilet (Instead of my back garden! – but that’s a post for another day) The tray was £1.99, this was great, not only was I now able to contain the mess I had £3.01 change!
These are some tried and tested ideas but there are no rules, just be creative and encourage your children to be creative with it…
What you need: Bath sea animals (or similar) water, cornflour, washing up liquid, blue food colouring and Cat litter tray!
Preparation: Mix together with a little of the water and food colouring in the tray until foam is firm, then chuck in the toys!
This was our first attempt at messy play. As soon as he came into the room he had a grin on his face. He played with the animals for about 30 seconds then found it was more fun just to play with the foam. It was going so well until I realized I had put to much food colouring in. As the foam was drying, it was staining his face and hair! I chucked him straight in the shower clothes and all. Sea foam top tip: only a few drops of food colouring!
Crunchy Work Site
What you need: Toy trucks, toy hammer, dry snacks (for example: Cereal, biscuits, crackers) and of course cat litter tray.
Preparation: Chuck all snacks into the box with trucks
This was me trying to play it safe after the sea foam, what Oliver didn’t eat could be hoovered up! Again he started of playing with the trucks, next he found he could crush the snacks with the hammer. He then realized it was quicker to crush with his hands and feet. This was definitely my favorite as it involved minimal mess. Crunchy work site top tip: Clean with child and or hoover.
What you need: Small toys (inexpensive from magazines are ideal as they may get stained), Jelly and not forgetting cat litter tray!
Preparation: Make Jelly and pour over toys in try before setting, place in fridge and leave over night.
As the food based play was a success last time I decided to give it another go. This time I played it safe and headed into the garden. The ‘farty’ noise as he pulled Mr Tumble out of the jelly caused a lot of laughter. As expected it didn’t take long for him to start eating it, this time using the spade as a spoon! Jelly jam top tip: Do not use your child’s favorite toys as they may get stained.
What you need: Cooked Spaghetti, toy pots and pans and…you guest it, Cat litter tray!
Preparation: Put spaghetti in tray (Told you it wasn’t complicated!)
Oliver loves pretending to cook so this was a great messy play session. He loved the feel (and taste!) of the spaghetti. I lost count of the amount of spaghetti meals served up. Another edible one, so of course a lot was consumed. This did leave a little mess but the fun and entertainment it provided made this worthwhile. Spaghetti Kitchen top tip: warm spaghetti up to stop it congealing.
Any other clean ideas for the cat litter tray are gratefully received. It is fair to say that this £1.99 cat toilet has become one of Oliver’s favorite toys! I hope this inspires others to try different things with a limited budget.