What a Mess! 20 Awesomely Messy Activities For Kids

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 20 super-fun, awesomely messy activities for kids

Let’s mess it up a bit. I mean really mess it up. Summer’s officially here today and that means endless days of pristine weather, perfectly manicured lawns, lounging around with lemonade, and wonderfully-behaved children. Right?

Nope. It means we let our kids get all crazy with the biggest, goopiest, yuckiest messes we can come up with. Do you need a little inspiration? Check out these 20 ideas for completely tactile, out-of-control, giggle-inducing creativity. The best part of these messy activities for kids is when you get to turn the hose on your kids and restore them back to their original splendor.

Recently I attempted to make some goo that worked perfectly on the blog from which I took it, but didn’t work so well in our house. Not only was it a complete disaster, I wasn’t smart enough to set it up outside, or at least lay down a tarp under it. But, boy was it fun. Beckett was enchanted and that’s what counts, right? I can deal with picking some bits of weird substance off the carpet for a while.

mud   What could be simpler than giving toddlers some slimy clay to explore? From My Buddies and I.


rubberband painting - messy projects roundup from Artchoo.comThis rubberband painting project just cracks me up. I can imagine once kids try this, they won’t want to stop, and the rubberbands must sound really cool as they’re being plucked. From Reading Confetti.


puffy clouds project - messy projects for kids roundup from Artchoo.com Have you tried mixing shaving cream and glue? It makes the coolest puffy paint that’s perfect for making free-form or stenciled clouds.


spaghetti painting! Messy play roundup from Artchoo.comCan you even imagine making spaghetti more fun than it already is? Just add paint and you have probably the best art-making tool ever. From Creative Playhouse.


art 088 We have so many zoo and farm animals hanging around our house, and they have yet to be painted. This shall change this summer- love this idea from Green Owl Art.


d64bea51 Given half a chance, kids will paint all over themselves. You can take advantage of this tendency by making belly prints! From Dilly-Dali Art.


cornstarch color mixing - messy projects roundup from Artchoo.com Oobleck (cornstarch and water) is a classic messy activity, but No Twiddle Twaddle takes it a step further by turning it into a color-mixing activity.


splatter painting - messy projects roundup on Artchoo.comWe had a blast making a splatter paint universe last summer.  Click through to see the great idea Fen had for where to set up the paper for splattering.


princess mud party - messy kids activities roundup at Artchoo.comOh, brilliant! Dress-up gets sloppy with the Princess Mud Tea Party from The Golden Gleam.


fizzing letters I’m not sure how any kid could resist these icy fizzing letters from Fun-a-Day. Colors, textures, sound, science. What’s not to love?


paint in a box       Throw a kid in a box with paint and see what happens! From Carrots Are Orange.


foamy soap paintingMixing paint with foamy soap results in a big mess that’s a snap to clean up- from A Mom With A Lesson Plan.


gooey flour fun

This project starts out fairly neat and then just explodes into a flour-goo frenzy. I love it because it’s sort of a pre-baking exercise. (Check out that awesome smock, by the way.) From Learn With Play At Home.


painting with ballsOh, wow. I think my husband will enjoy this project as much as the kids- it will turn into some sort of crazy ball-bouncing contest… from School Time Snippets.


bubble wrap paintingHey! Two more favorite kid things come together in this hand-painting-on-bubble-wrap project. From An Everyday Story.


squeeze bottle painting

Goodness. This squeeze bottle pinting project turned into a whole yard paint-a-thon. How fun! Mommy Musings and Mayhem.


soap fluff Here’s another messy/clean activity, mixing shaving cream with all sorts of interesting items to create tactile goodness. From The Imagination Tree.


flubber slime baskets

Juggling With Kids devised this wonderful way to make playing with flubber more exciting- (recipe included in post.)


mud paintingLooking for more mud projects? Kid World Citizen has this awesome Malian mud cloth project….


mud fun

…and Housing a Forest turned her small urban back yard into the best mud-filled adventure ever.

What do think? Are you stressed out from all this mess or inspired to let loose and give your kids license to get all yucky?



  1. 06/21/2013 / 11:02 am

    This list is PURE fun!!! What great ideas, especially for this beautiful summer weather!

    • 06/21/2013 / 11:10 am

      I love your project! Thanks for letting me ‘borrow’ it… we’ll definitely be trying that one.

  2. 06/21/2013 / 11:05 am

    We are definitely partial to messy fun at my house, so I looooove this post! Thanks so much for including our fizzy letters among these amazing ideas. 🙂 Can’t wait to try out some new ideas this summer.

    • 06/21/2013 / 11:11 am

      Thanks so much for the awesome project- it looks like crazy amounts of fun!

  3. 06/21/2013 / 11:33 am

    LOVE IT!!! Thank you so much for including my messy play.

    • 06/21/2013 / 11:45 am

      Thank YOU so much! This was a really fun post to compile.

  4. 06/21/2013 / 4:00 pm

    Last summer we gave our art summer camp kids just shaving cream to painting on the tables outdoors. We had the m put on bathing suits first in anticipation and ff course, they ended up painting themselves and at the end we just hosed them down.

    • 06/22/2013 / 1:17 pm

      Bathing suits are the absolute perfect outfit for most of these projects, I imagine. I’m sure they had a blast with the hosing-down part, too!

  5. 06/21/2013 / 4:55 pm

    Thanks so much for featuring my coloring mixing activity. This is such a great list!

    • 06/22/2013 / 1:17 pm

      Your activity is awesome! Thanks for letting me include it- I can’t wait to try it!

  6. 06/21/2013 / 11:47 pm

    What an awesome round up! This is great. I love the painting with spaghetti idea!! Thanks for all this goodness wrapped up in one : )

    • 06/22/2013 / 1:15 pm

      I love that idea, too! I had that on my grocery list yesterday and forgot to buy it- we’ll do it today. I’m fully expecting a spaghetti war all over the yard and my dog lying around with a blissfully full tummy afterwards.

  7. 06/22/2013 / 11:49 am

    The messier the better! These ideas look like awesome fun for summer!

    • 06/22/2013 / 1:13 pm

      Yes, definitely summer activities – now get out there and get all messy, Mia!

  8. 06/22/2013 / 4:40 pm

    What a fabulous compilation – thank you so much! We’ll be trying some of these for sure! Lucinda

    • 06/22/2013 / 9:26 pm

      Great! We are going to dive into some of these tomorrow- it’s hard to choose where to start, though…

  9. 06/23/2013 / 12:59 am

    What a fabulous list. Thank you for including our gloriously messy finger painting on bubble wrap 🙂 We are in midwinter here but I am looking forward to warmer days so we can get out and get messy again 🙂

  10. 06/23/2013 / 8:25 am

    I think my favorite is the kid in the box with paint! 🙂 – Dee @ From Wine to Whine

  11. 06/26/2013 / 9:55 am

    I love the rubberband painting project, and the splatter paint! And of course all of them give me anxiety, but so much fun outside.

  12. 06/27/2013 / 9:29 pm

    If there is a season for mess this is it! Clean up in the kiddie pool. Great lists!

    • 06/29/2013 / 11:16 am

      Our kiddie pool has already gotten a beating this summer from way too much action- I think I need to buy a few more.

  13. 06/28/2013 / 9:59 pm

    I love this post!!! I am featuring it tomorrow on Share it Saturday. Thanks for linking up.

  14. 07/30/2013 / 5:26 am

    Not sure how I missed when you posted this but had to stop by and say how fantastic it is. what a wonderfully messy collection you gathered and I so appreciate you including our squirt bottle fun!

  15. 10/05/2013 / 2:02 am

    My daughter can make a mess out of anything. At least with these great ideas I can control the situation. Thanks for the great post!

  16. Josh Mason
    03/01/2014 / 1:10 am

    I’d actually try some of these projects myself because they look extremely fun for older people to try as well, and as for splatter painting, I actually have tried that before and love it!

    Sidewalk art is also inherently messy, and a very fun project, plus if you put enough effort into it and are good at it, you can actually make some really nice sidewalk art, in addition to drawing with chalk pastels or oil pastels on paper, mache is also great fun as well.

    One more messy activity for people of all ages: start a paint balloon fight.

    • 03/01/2014 / 7:22 pm

      Oooooh, paint balloon fight will be on our agenda for the summer! I agree, too, I have as much fun doing some of these projects as my kids do!

      • Josh Mason
        03/02/2014 / 5:12 pm

        Actually, the paint balloon fight idea would be a good Holi celebration idea, with Holi coming up and all.

        • 03/03/2014 / 8:22 pm

          How cool! I hadn’t heard of Holi before, so I looked it up this morning and it’s AWESOME. SO inspired to do a cool post on it now, thanks for mentioning it.

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