Tag: “messy play”

Why we should start embracing messy play

Why we should start embracing messy play

A whopping 49% of parents in South Africa, according to the latest LEGO Play Well report – aren’t quite on board with the muddy, sticky play that most children love. Most parents shudder at the thought of cleaning up all the mess, but I want to give you a few reasons WHY you need to start embracing messy play, in all its glory, and why it is so essential for our children. If you ask me to picture my childhood, it was running around outside in the dusty Botswana sand, barefoot, making forts under trees. It was happy, it was carefree. Life has changed a lot in the last 30 years, and in today’s world, a large majority of children don’t get to play outside like I did. This is one of the reasons messy play is so important.
Messy play incorporates all of the senses and allows children to explore, the benefits of messy play are huge and totally worth the minimal inconvenience.

By using different materials to explore various textures, children get used to different sensations using their hands and fingers or even toes and feet! Some children are more sensitive to different sensations, and messy play is a great way to ease them into new experiences without overwhelming them.

Messy play fosters creativity and imagination, encourages language and communication skills, practices concentration, and promotes physical development. Ive watched my 15 month old daughter play on her own for hours, exploring the concepts of pouring sand out of a container and filling another with water. Watching them mix and create mud, its early science and it is so exciting for them! These are all brilliant occupational therapy skills and are crucial for physical development.

Here are a few ideas for messy play:

1) “Jelly Cubes” – Make these up either with real Jelly or with a Gelatine and food colouring mixture, as I did here (that way there is no added sugar). Cut up the Jelly into ice cube sizes and let your children go wild! Some will mix, some will squish, others may choose to “bake”, whatever they do let them have fun and go wild. It washes out easily 🙂

2) Rainbow Spaghetti – One of the best “first play” ingredients to give to baby – Rainbow spaghetti is colourful, sticky, and tons of fun to play with. The more that ends up in the hair the better 🙂

3) Edible “Beach Sand” – If you don’t live by the coast – bring the coast to you! Place some flour on a baking tray and bake in the oven on low. Mix in a little oil when it’s done and crumble up to resemble beach sand. Place into a large tray with a few utensils like a fork, cup and watch baby feel the sand sensation and play.

4) Edible “mud” – the next best thing if you don’t have access to the real deal – you can do this two ways; either mix up a little chocolate pudding with some water and flour, or you could mix cornflour, water and cocoa powder together. Incorporate some learning into it by setting up a farmyard scene or throwing in some diggers and delight in the squishy sensation!

5) Baby safe slime/ Oobleck – My ultimate “go to” activity if the kids are whiny around dinner time. With just two ingredients, cornflour and water – this is the basis of a lot of our messy play. Let the kids mix and bake away and watch in amazement how this “magical” fluid can turn from a solid into a liquid in seconds!

6) Chickpea foam / Aquafaba – One of the best discoveries I have ever made. Using an electric beater, blend up the brine left over from chickpeas. Add in some colour if you like, but blend up until it forms a meringue like consistency. The kids will love playing with this. If you don’t have any chickpeas on hand you can do the same with a little dishwashing liquid and water, it just won’t be as stiff.

7) Rescuing objects from the Ice – You can do this with anything including toy cars, animal figurines, but we have chosen lego, of course. Place your selected objects into a large container, or choose to freeze them individually into ice cubes. Once frozen place them on a tray and let your children try to “release” them. I give the kids plastic syringes, spray bottles and containers to pour water over the ice to see if they can melt it.

8) Painting with lego – using your lego or duplo blocks, let the kids dip them into some paint and create paintings with the different shapes. Remember with messy play, there is no end goal in mind, so whatever they choose to paint or create, that is up to them! Some children are more structured, and others are completely abstract, let them have fun, explore the different shapes and get messy.

9) Lego and shaving foam – Shaving foam is another essential in our messy play cupboard. With just a few sprays you can turn anything to an adventure. I literally chucked in some Duplo blocks for my 1 year old, adding in some shaving cream and let her explore. I keep a bucket of clean water by her side, so she can cover the blocks and then rinse them again, but it was fun to watch her explore.

10) Create Sensory Worlds – This is fun for slightly older kids. I choose a theme and then we create a world around it with messy play items. Rainbow coloured rice, salt sand or cornflour and water. We then chuck in figurines like fish, or space themed objects and create a world to explore and play in. It incorporates structured learning with messy fun and they love it. Their top 3 worlds have been a crocodile swamp, the lifecycle of a frog with squishy water beads and a space themed tray with black rice and different substances for the planets.

This article was written in partnership with Lego South Africa, for the full article and more detail click here.

Chickpea Foam – Taste Safe Sensory Fun

Chickpea Foam – Taste Safe Sensory Fun

Aquafaba, its been around for years; I certainly haven’t created anything new here but I personally only discovered it recently and what an incredible eye opener! Aquafaba is often used in vegan cooking and baking. This super cool substance mimics the functional properties of egg whites in cooking, and can be used as a direct replacement, including meringues and marshmallows.

With baby around now I have to start becoming more conscious of some of the sensory play we do with the boys, and in a few short months I will start introducing her to our wonderful world of play! I was researching edible slime and foam recipes when I stumbled across this Chickpea foam, and in all honesty, it really is the best foam, in terms of consistency, that we have made.

Easy to make

It could not be easier. Simply strain a can (or two) of chickpeas into a bowl and beat on high until it starts to fluff up. Add in a tablespoon or so of Cream of Tartar to really stiffen the peaks, and add in food colouring of your choice. Ill be honest, at first the smell is a bit much, so I chucked in a tiny bit of rose essence to lighten it up.

It foams up better than shaving cream and keeps its form for longer. We made up a rainbow batch that the boys played with all afternoon, making potions and soups for us to sample. Kids adore sensory play and the texture of this foam will keep them busy for hours, just make sure you have some good chickpea recipes on standby for the week to use up the tins 🙂

Have you got any other super fun taste safe sensory play ideas? Id love to hear about them!

Life Cycle Of A Frog – Squishy Sensory Bin Fun

Life Cycle Of A Frog – Squishy Sensory Bin Fun

My eldest got some tadpoles at school the other day, and the excitement was very very real! Everyday when I fetched him he would show me their progress and point out the ones that were growing. I had been waiting for the perfect moment to use my Toobs figurines from Kid-Ease, and this was it!

My youngest still is fully absorbed by sensory trays so I always try and combine them with a little learning for my 5 year old now as well. We picked out a froggie book and got to making our “pond” habitat.

Materials Used:


Jelly type substance – you could make some goop up from cornflour and water, but I used Sno Ball from Zimpli Kids and added some blue food colouring to it




Frog figurines or any other figurines found around a pond

I also used polystyrene cut into the shape of a lily pad because I didnt have any other suitable “lily pads”.

Explore the Life Cycle of a Frog

I always have to hold my kids back a bit before they dive right into a sensory tray. So I began by pointing out the various different stages of a frog and asked Aadam which order he thought they belonged in. As soon as he touched the sensory tray it was over and they both were too excited to play. We combined it by reading one of our favourite “frog themed” books, frog on a log. We also spoke about what other animals you would find around a pond like dragonflies, fish, butterflies and turtles. We also spoke about how the frogs lay eggs in groups and that they need to be in the water or they will dry up and not hatch We also discussed how the frog changes as it gets bigger and how it slowly loses its “tail”.

Its so much fun to learn when you get to play and explore as well!

I never know whether to turn our sensory trays into blogs or just post the pictures up on instagram. What do you prefer? Whichever way I hope you got some inspiration, and happy playing!

How To Make Frozen Oobleck

How To Make Frozen Oobleck

Hot Summer days are the perfect excuse to be outside with messy play. Frozen oobleck is such a perfect activity for this and it literally doubles the fun and play time of normal oobleck. “Oobleck” is just a fancy term for good old cornflour and water and with the help of some silicon moulds this is one super fun activities and absolutely safe for younger babies and toddlers to experiment with.

You’ll Need:

  • cornstarch
  • water
  • liquid watercolors or food coloring (optional)
  • ice-cube trays, silicone molds, or a container to place in the freezer

How to Make the Frozen Oobleck:

  1. Add about 1 cup of cornflour to a bowl.
  2. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of water. I found with this you want to almost double the amount of cornflour to water, because your freezing it, to make sure it melts into a proper gooey oobleck. Less water is better!
  3. Add food coloring or liquid watercolors. Obviously for younger kids you would want to use food colouring as its non-toxic.
  4. Pour the oobleck into molds. We used our favourite Mickey shaped moulds, because someone turns 90 on the 18th of November!
  5. Place the molds in the freezer for at least a few hours.

Take it outside! This activity was perfect and the boys banged about trying to break up the frozen moulds for ages before getting stuck into the gooey mixture afterwards. it goes without saying its messy, but that’s why we were in our swimming suits ready to rinse off in the pool afterward. Interest was held for much longer. Once melted, It has properties of both a solid and a liquid depending on the amount of pressure applied. When you press down, the cornstarch and water mixture acts like a solid, but when constant slow pressure is not applied, the mixture acts like a liquid.

The perfect activity for summer holidays coming up!

20 Outdoor Activities To Do With The Kids

20 Outdoor Activities To Do With The Kids

Yaaay for warmer days and longer hours of sunshine. I’ve missed outdoor activities with the boys so much and in the past two weeks every day after work we try to fit in some “play time”.

Most of these can be done in a smaller outdoor area, so if you’re in a high rise with limited balcony space, worry not! You can still get creative.

Here are my favourite outdoor activities to do with kids:

  • First and foremost, I just like to sit back and observe. Let their imaginations work. Get them outside and let them make their own fun. On their own accord they have been countless hours “building” forts, making houses behind trees, turned into imaginary chefs mixing up soup with leaves and their ultimate is to pretend they are gardeners. Whilst I’m a huge advocate of doing things with them, trust me, my absolute number one thing to do is just to let them do their own thing. It’s a magical thing to watch.
  • Set up a “Mud Kitchen”- All kids, no matter what their gender love to spend hours mixing and creating. Give them a couple of old bowls and spoons with a jug of water and some soil and you’ll be amazed at the creations put in front of you to sample.
  • Paint with Ice Lollies – a lot of my outdoor activities include paint, because to be honest, I much prefer the kids painting outdoors than in, in the interest of keeping my walls and floors paint free of course. This is super easy. Mix a little paint with water (you can also use food colouring and water) and pour into an ice container. Once the cubes are partially frozen add in your Popsicle sticks and take out when completely frozen. Yes it’s just paint, but it adds a completely different dimension and texture to painting.

  • Paint with Nature – Spring time with all the flowers out is the perfect time to do this. Grab a few flowers, leaves and sticks and get the kids to paint with them. Observe the patterns they all make and which ones are easier to paint with.
  • Pack up your lunch and take it outside. Most kids adore picnics, so instead of sitting inside to eat, grab a blanket and take it outdoors for a bit of an adventure
  • Set up a mini Olympics – This really doesn’t have to take too much thought or effort. We have used things we have around the house. Examples include: drawing a target circle on the wall outside in chalk, get the kids to try and hit the targets with a ball or bean bag. Tying a hoola hoop onto a tree to create a ring to throw through. Place cones out and create a mini obstacle course to run and jump through.
  • Build a Fairy House – Using popsicle sticks, sticks, matchboxes, moss, leaves, and small items from inside your home to build a fairy-sized house.
  • Build a Bug Hotel – My husband hates this one but the boys love it. Find any interesting artifacts lying around. Old bricks, pipes, pots with holes and rolled up newspaper work really well. Layer with straw and leaves to create mulch and make a really interesting little “hotel” for bugs to make their home in!
  • Go on a bug hunt – Look around said hotel ? Take a magnifying glass and create a list of possible bugs in your garden. Encourage the kids to look under pots and logs to try and find the bugs
  • Create a scavenger hunt – I like hiding figurine animals around the garden for this one. You can use a magnifying glass or make a pair of binoculars out of toilet paper rolls. Hide your mini animals all around the garden and let the kids find them.

  • Create a wash station – whatever it is, be it windows or bikes and cars. Get kids involved with a sponge and some soapy water and they are in their element. My boys love washing their bikes, or my windows and ultimately it always turns into a wet, messy affair. You are outside, so its OK ? 
  • Make some bird feeders – Out of pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed. The kids will love making their own feeders and will often keep checking to see if birds come to feed.
  • Paint Stone Pebbles – My boys loved this ! Collect medium-sized stones and arrange them in the garden. Get your kids to paint the stones with acrylic paints of different colours. They can paint anything they like from shapes, to pets and insects. Mum can come in after and draw in any finer details.

  • Create Giant Bubbles – Bubbles are one thing I despise doing inside. The sticky bubbles pip all over the tiled floors leaving a slippery, sticky mess. Outdoors is the perfect place to create bubbles to your hearts content. To make the giant bubbles add one cup of dishwashing soap to a litre of warm water. An extra two to three tablespoons of glycerine, (makes your super big bubbles). Pour your concoction into a flat, rimmed tray, like a sheet-cake pan, and dip in a large DIY wand, made by bending a wire hanger into a loop. Lift the wand slowly and walk backward to let loose a gigantic bubble. Experiment and try different mediums, a fly swat perhaps with large holes. The crazy store has a lot of possible options to use.
  • Collect flowers and leaves and make a magic potion – Using food colours and petals let your kids mix away and create any “magic potion” they desire. I love the pretend aspect here.
  • Sensory Trays – If you have been following my blog for a while you know I’m a HUGE fan of Sensory boxes. Why not make some foam soap, a slimy swamp or a sandbox sensory tray with cloud dough? The possibilities are endless and being outdoors or on a balcony means easy clean up!

  • Go crazy with chalk – I must admit I LOVE chalk. It’s the one time my boys are allowed to draw all over the walls and floor. If we are outside of course. We love to colour in bricks and then find things around the garden to match the shade of brick, or just graffiti the driveway up. Whatever it is, it only takes a rain shower or sprinkler to wash away. Easy clean up!
  • Create a Nature Weave – We have been meaning to try this for ages and it looks pretty simple! You will need to find 4 pretty straight twigs to bind together into a square shape. Take some string (or you could even use bits of palm leaf) and weave close together to form a weave. The kids can find flowers, leaves or any interesting objects in the garden to thread through the “dream catcher” or “Nature Weave”.
  • Make a Water Wall – We have done this a number of ways and its so easy and very educational for little toddlers. The easy way would be to cut out scoops from the middle of plastic bottles. (I used 500 ml water bottles as well as 1l and 2l soda bottles. Attached them to the wall in a descending order, I just used tape as It was a makeshift one. Give your kids a scoop or jug to pour water into the top container and watch in amazement as the water flows through ! My dad then got involved and make the most awesome water wall out of PVC piping for the boys. If you have a good hardware store close by it shouldn’t be too hard. Place a tub underneath to collect all the water and let them play!

  • Make Ice Fossils – One of our all time favourite activities. Take any small figurines you may have around the house; we have used “dinosaurs” for dino eggs as well as marine life. Put them into an empty water balloon, fill with water and tie. Freeze the balloons overnight and then cut off the balloon cover. Place out bottles with water, plastic syringes and chipping hammers and let the kids try to uncover their fossils in the ice !

DIY Bathtime Playdough

DIY Bathtime Playdough

Any lush fans in the house? Since we made our own bath bombs ,I’ve really been enjoying reading up on the various different bath options we can create. If you are a lush fan you’ll be familiar with their “bath time playdough”, we’ve had the rainbow one a couple of times, and I never realised just how easy it could be to create! These are literally two of the greatest things in the world colliding into one ball of awesomeness. Playdough and Bath time are my boys absolute favourites, and this was just so much fun.

You’ll need 3 simple ingredients:


Your kids body wash/ Castille soap

Food colouring

Essential Oils (optional)

This does require a fair bit of kneading before it gets to a manageable consistency. I did the initial mixing an then let the boys get stuck in. Simply start with 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part body wash. I started with 2/3 cups cornstarch and 1/3 cup body wash. Stir the mixture together until it’s all combined. If the resulting mixture is too solid, add a bit more body wash and vice versa. If you are using food colouring, mix it in with the body wash first (I didnt, and it created a slight marbled effect).


Let them have fun and play in the bath. Roll off a small amount of the dough (about a tablespoon). You don’t want to use it all in one bath session. It will disintegrate in the water but stay solid as they rub it on their bodies. It smells amazing and they’ll get clean while they play! You coul also use it in sensory play, as part of a water table, for your kids to use when cleaning toys, or as a dry playdough.

Making this playdough is also a fantastic sensory experience and fine motor strengthening activity.

Have you tried making your own bathtime playdough? I’ve seen a couple of variations on the recipe and would love to hear how you made yours.

Edible Sensory Play – Chocolate mud

Edible Sensory Play – Chocolate mud

I’ve been dealing with a bit of “mommy guilt” the past two weeks, feeling like I hadn’t given the boys any fun activities to play or do, though I am an advocate of “let them be bored”.

My eldest is going through a HUGE “arts and crafts” spree and every morning wakes up asking to make some creative concoction. We haven’t done a sensory play activity In so long and I’ve been wanting to do “edible mud” for quite some time. This “Mud” is fantastic for younger kids, all ingredients are edible, in fact they taste quiet good!

It’s a great “taste-safe” play idea and even more effective when paired with a little themed book or song.

Having boys I was so tempted to chuck in some spaghetti worms, or sweet snakes, but decided to go with more interactive toys. We did two set ups, one “farm yard” and one “digger yard”.

All the recipes I found online for this include syrup and sugar, I have no idea why but if my intention was certainly not for my kids to find it “tasty”, so I omitted that.


I started off with about 1.5 cups of flour

1.5 cups of cornflour

1 cup cocoa

Water to mix.


I added and mixed as I went along, until I got a nice thick consistency. I wanted it to be a Newtonian fluid, that became solid as they played.

We kept a water station close by so they could wash their figurines straight after, and we also did this right before bath time 🙂

I am such an avid supporter of sensory play activities like this one as they learn about “clean and dirty”, they learnt about all the different farm animals and where they normally lived, textures and role play.

My youngest was so confused, he kept saying “Its yucky mud” but it smells like cake !

Happy playing!

Fizz Dough Recipe

Fizz Dough Recipe

A soft, fizzy dough to make sandcastles with the magically turns into a playdough consistency, this recipe literally has it all for kids and may just have become my favourite !

We started off by combining equal amounts of cornflour (cornstarch) and bicarbonate of soda. I was running out of cornflour so I think my Continue reading “Fizz Dough Recipe”