Burngreave Messenger.
March 2006

Messy Play

One thing almost all children love is being messy.

This is where it pays to know how to make a variety of clean(ish) messes. Homemade playdoughs and puttys can be cheap and easy to make, bring hours of fun, and are activities that children and adults of all abilities can enjoy.

These types of sensory play activities enable children to explore familiar and unfamiliar materials in different ways, and can be therapeutic, stimulating, and fun.

Children are often told not to do something because it’s making a mess, or they’re getting dirty; but Doug Cole, Chairman of The International Play Association, has suggested that not allowing children to take part in messy play, can hold back a child’s development.

As playworkers, and parents, we can address this growing trend by making more time for messy, sensory play. It may take a little longer to clean up, and children may get a bit messy, but it’s one of the most inclusive types of play and pretty much all children love it.


Wet/dry play dough
1 box (16oz) cornflour; 1 cup water; food colouring (optional)

Let children add water to the cornflour in small additions, and mix the ingredients by hand. Add food colouring if desired.

Silly Putty
1 cup cornflour; 1 cup salt; 11⁄2 cups flour; 1⁄2 cup water (maybe take more)

Mix together cornflour, salt and flour. Add water and mix.

Links to more info and recipes:

Sensory Play Suggestions

Sensory Misc.