Tag Archives: messy play

Messy Play with Flour and Cornflour

I was so pleased when I saw that Jennie had relaunched her Messy Play for Matilda Mae linky last week.  I needed the motivation to get the Tuff Spots out again and let the children play with the flour which they had been saving since we played the flour cake game at Halloween.  We invited our friends from 3 Kids and a Gluestick round and had a wonderful time.  This was over a week ago, and we missed the linky, so I am determined to get this post written up now before the next one closes.

messy flour 1

We started off by playing the flour cake game again, and once we had finished, the children added some vehicles and farm animals and played happily with the flour all afternoon.

messy flour 2

Owl and Rabbit chose to play with cornflour in the other Tuff Spot.  They had a bowl each and mixed it with water before adding green food colouring.  Then Rabbit added vanilla essence to hers and Owl chose lemon flavouring for his.  I accidentally overdid it on the lemon, but the smell was delicious.

messy flour 3

I think they decided it was a wizard’s potion which probably explains Owl’s choice of hat!

messy flour 4

It was a very successful afternoon, though once the children started walking in the flour we thought we’d better bring it to a close.  That sort of thing works well in the garden in the summer, but it’s a bit harder to manage in a small area indoors with seven children.

messy play 5

The perfect way to finish was of course to turn one of the Tuff Spots into a car wash.  The children did have a lot of fun with this.  Owl made some holes in the bottom of a milk carton and used it to sprinkle water on the vehicles.  We used sponges to clean the cars and then lined them up to dry on trays covered with tea towels.

We never get bored of playing with flour and cornflour and it was the best way to get our messy play going again – we are back in business!

Messy Play: from Oats to Moon Sand

Looking back through my photos of the Summer holidays so far, it is clear that of the many posts I wrote in my head, the majority never made it to the blog.  A couple of weeks ago, we decided to play with oats which is one of our favourite messy play materials.  I knew that the little ones would want to add water and get into a lovely sticky mess, but Monkey would not enjoy it.  So I divided the oats between two Tuff Spots and made it clear that one was to remain dry.  They managed to keep them separate, so all the children had a wonderful time playing in the way they wanted.

oats 2

In the dry Tuff Spot, Monkey spent a long time setting up a farm with some help from Owl.  They really enjoyed their intricate, careful play while the two younger children were happily occupied with their messy kitchen.  With help from Supergirl, Rabbit and Tiddler stirred and poured, made porridge and enjoyed the texture of the wet oaty mess.  They also collected apples from the garden and rolled out some pink icing to make cakes.  I love seeing the different ways my children play and the way it reflects their personalities.

oats 3

oats 4

We haven’t done quite as much of this type of play recently as we usually do, but looking through the photos from this activity reminded me how much we love it so we need to get back into the habit.  We have saved the dry oats, so we’ll be playing with them again soon.  And yesterday the children played with moon sand, which they haven’t done for ages.  I was about to put it in a Tuff Spot in the garden when it started to rain, so we came inside and played with it at the table.  They were having such a lovely time that I let them (the younger three) climb on the table and feel the sand between their toes.  It was fun, but without the Tuff Spot to contain it, a lot ended up on the floor so they really haven’t got much left.  I think it will be on the Christmas list, but before then I need to get round to making some because I’m sure it’s not that difficult.

moon sand

I’m linking up with Jennie’s Messy Play for Matilda Mae, a great place to look for ideas and inspiration.

Edspire  Messy Play

Porridge and Stories

On Friday afternoon we combined two of our favourite things – stories and messy play.

A few weeks ago, the children asked if they could have a book day.  Since then we have revisited the idea several times, often on a Friday afternoon, including our story picnic the week before last.  So we have decided to make it a regular weekly event.

On previous occasions, the children have made lots of collections of books and the toys that go with them, but I was aware that they spent more time collecting than concentrating on the stories!  This time I suggested reading just two stories and basing our play around them.  We read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Magic Porridge Pot and then the children gathered the toys they wanted to play with while I made some porridge.

I recently wrote this post, touching on the ethics of messy play with food.  It has been shared again on twitter over the weekend (thank you BritMums) and discussed in relation to the BigIF London event and the campaign to end world hunger.  I think I need to write another post on the subject to respond to some of the comments on twitter properly, but I wanted to mention it here too.  We are still playing with food, and I believe the benefits for the children are important enough to justify it.  However, I have taken some steps to reduce waste.

When making the porridge, I tried to cook the amount the children would actually eat, and I got it about right.  We did the activity at snack time, and of course some of it got smeared around the Tuff Spot (and on their bodies!) but they did eat most of it.

I am mostly trying to let the children play with food in such a way that it can be eaten as well, rather than mixing edible and inedible ingredients.  However we do still play with flour and cornflour, which I do not encourage the children to eat!

When we play with dry food ingredients, I try to reuse them as many times as possible.  We currently have a mixture of rice and lentils which has been used a lot, and now contains a bit of flour and some sand too!  On this occasion I was not able to save the dry oats that we played with as they became mixed with the porridge.  This was probably because it was raining so we had to play indoors with the Tuff Spots next to each other.  If we had been in the garden, I would have put them further apart so that they were two separate activities.

porridge play 1

For this activity, I made some traditional porridge, and also some instant hot oats.  I used water instead of milk to try to reduce food waste.  Then I started to think about the amount of water we generally play with and whether we need to think about that issue too.  At this point my brain started to hurt from overthinking!

In addition to the two kinds of cooked porridge, I gave the children some dry oats and instant oats to play with, and some sugar, raisins and cinnamon to add to their porridge.

porridge play 2

The children had a lovely time making mixtures of the various ingredients, using a Lego Duplo truck to deliver them (with a Playmobil 123 driver!) and eating rather a lot of very sugary porridge.  They also discovered that cinnamon was very good for making marks in.

porridge play 3

Monkey made a scene from the Three Bears story with our Maths bears (normally used for counting, colour sorting and comparing ) but it wasn’t long before the bears were swimming in the porridge.

porridge play 4

One of the Fisher Price farm people also went for a dive in a cup of porridge, which Rabbit thought was very funny.  We then did some mark-making and I was very pleased to see that Rabbit can now spell quite a few three-letter (CVC) words, and has definitely moved on to sounding them out rather than just learning each word separately.  I am finding it very interesting to observe the different ways in which each of my children has learnt/ is learning to read.  I think that subject merits a post of its own (I have such a long list of posts I want to write.)

porridge play 5

Monkey and Rabbit are both so good at reading, writing and spelling that I don’t often focus on them quite so much when we are mark-making.  However, Monkey did learn to spell the word “porridge” during this activity!

porridge play 6

We had so much fun with our messy play this week, as always remembering Matilda Mae and her lovely mummy Jennie who has given us so much inspiration for our play and learning.  We are joining up again with the Messy Play for Matilda Mae linky, and also wondering if we are brave enough to start a linky of our own about activities based on books and stories.  So what do you think?  If there was a children’s book- themed linky, would you join in?  If you say yes, then I will have to do it!

Edspire  Messy Play

Mark Making and Planting Seeds

On Sunday we spent the afternoon in the garden enjoying the sunshine.  We thought we would clear some wet sand out of one of the Tuff Spots, and Rabbit and Tiddler enjoyed helping to lift spadefuls of sloppy wet sand into the wheelbarrow.  However, it soon became clear that they were having a lot of fun playing with it, so we changed our plans and let them carry on.  We experimented with making marks in the wet sand and the children also buried their hands in it.  Tiddler got right in there and stomped around in it too.

mark making 1

We then got some vehicles and Tiddler made tracks in the sand, while I drew shapes and Rabbit wrote some words.

mark making 2

This went on for a long time!

mark making 3

And I had as much fun as the children did!

mark making 4

When the little ones had finished, we removed most of the sand and then added our leftover rice and lentil mixture (I think there is a bit of flour in there as well!)  This was more appealing to Monkey, who prefers “clean” messy play, so he and I spent quite a long time making marks in it, while the others dipped in and out of the activity.

mark making 5

The vehicles were added back in and more tracks were made.

mark making 6

And then of course there was the fun of washing the toys!

mark making 7

Meanwhile, in the other Tuff Spot…

mark making 8

Rabbit, Tiddler and I planted some of the enormous stash of seeds leftover from last year.  I know it is a bit late for some of them, but it is such a fun activity and the seeds are not going to improve by being left for another year so we decided to try our luck.

mark making 9

Next we did some mark making and Tiddler drew a snake so I showed him how to write the letter “S” and we talked about how it looks like a wiggly snake.

mark making 10

After that, Owl and I did some more writing and drawing in the rice mixture, while Monkey made mud pies with the compost.

mark making 11

It was a lovely afternoon and once again it reminded me that the best play is often completely unplanned!

Edspire  Messy Play

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Playing with Paint

Almost two weeks ago Rabbit and Tiddler had a lovely time playing with paint in the Tuff Spot.  It was worthy of a separate blog post, but instead it got rather lost in a round up of a busy and somewhat stressful week.  We squirted blobs of paint around the Tuff Spot, and then made marks in the paint with cardboard tubes, cars and balls, and our hands too .  It was a lot of fun, and I would like to do it again soon.  We need to use heavier balls, such as marbles so that we can roll them around the Tuff Spot, and I’m sure we can think of lots of other toys to use for mark-making as well.  I will also experiment with putting paper in the Tuff Spot first, or laying paper on top of the patterns to take prints of them, although I think the process is a lot more important than the product.

Paint 1

Paint 2

Paint 3

After the painting session, we had lunch then headed out for a walk in the woods.  When we returned home, Rabbit and Tiddler decided they would like to wash the cars and balls.  I think if anything this was even more fun than the original activity.  I placed a bowl of soapy water in the middle of the Tuff Spot, gave them each a cloth and let them get on with it.  They had a wonderful time!

Paint wash 1

Paint wash 2

Paint wash 3

A Pink and Purple Tea Party

This morning we started on the preparations for the messy play we had planned for this afternoon.  Rabbit and Tiddler and I made raspberry and blackcurrant jellies, and then I made some strawberry blancmange.  I put some pink, white and yellow sweets in some of the jellies, and added some mini marshmallows to the blancmange.  After lunch, Owl and Monkey joined in and we all made fairy cakes together, and then I made a heart-shaped cake with the leftover cake mixture.  (I always have leftover mixture because I can never pass up the opportunity to do a quick Maths lesson in doubling quantities!)

pink and purple 1

Next, I made some butter icing, and divided it into three bowls.  I coloured some of it pink and some puple, leaving the rest white. And finally, I made up a quick batch of raspberry Angel Delight.  When everything was ready, we set up the Tuff Spots with all the cakes and puddings, and added hundreds and thousands, edible pink glitter, pink and white flower decorations, and mini and micro marshmallows.  I also put out some pink wafers, strawberry milk and pink rolling icing, plus lots of cutters, rolling pins, spoons and other utensils.  The children also set out a blanket with some cushions, a wooden chocolate cake, and lots of cuddly toys ready to enjoy the tea party.

pink and purple 2     pink and purple 3

We decorated cakes, rolled out pink icing and cut out some hearts and circles, poured out pink milk and spooned pudding into bowls.  After making sure the dolls and cuddly toys had enough, the children ate rather a lot themselves.  As usual, I nearly let them ruin their appetites but remembered just in time, and got them to eat some beans on toast before letting them get back to their tea party which lasted for over an hour.

pink and purple 4    pink and purple 5

This post was written for Jennie‘s Messy Play for Matilda Mae linky which has a pink and purple theme this week.  Please also take a look at the Matilda Mae Memorial auction and bid for some lovely things to raise money for the Lullaby Trust.

Paint, glitter glue and bug hunting

On Wednesday, we had home education group at our house again.  I was anxiously watching the weather, as I had planned a messy painting activity and was hoping to be able to do it in the garden.  Jennie asked earlier in the week if people could do some pink and purple messy play in the week leading up to Matilda Mae’s Mile in Memory walk which is taking place tomorrow, so I stocked up on pink and purple art and craft materials, as well as a multicoloured selection to give the children plenty of choice.  It was cloudy and wet in the morning, but by lunchtime the sun was out, and by the time everyone arrived it was warm enough to be in the garden.  There were five families this time, and a total of fourteen children ranging in age from four weeks to nearly nine years old.

I set up the pink and purple materials in one Tuff Spot and the multicoloured ones in the other.  We had glitter glue, paint, paper, feathers, foam hearts, fabric stars, pipe cleaners, water beads and a few other random bits and pieces.  I also had a big table with an assortment of boxes, cardboard tubes and glue for model-making, and a small table with finger paint and sponges for painting directly on the table as well as on paper.  And inside, I had pencils and paper on the dining room table for anyone who wanted a quiet place to sit and draw.

paint glitter bugs 1

It was a lovely afternoon, the children were busy and happy, the adults had time to chat, the artistic creations were wonderful and there was, as always, a good satisfying mess.  As well as painting and drawing, the children enjoyed climbing and swinging, scooting and riding bikes, and the inevitable bug hunting.  The children were also very excited to find a nest with four eggs in, right inside the “talking bush.”  This is a bush at the bottom of the garden which the children love to play in, and they think it is funny that from the outside we can’t see them so the bush appears to be talking.  By the end of the afternoon, the model-making had become quite elaborate and there is now an extensive and luxurious Matilda Mae Bug Hotel in our garden!  We will always remember Matilda Mae here, even if we show it in unusual ways.

paint glitter bugs 2   paint glitter bugs 3

paint glitter bugs 4  paint glitter bugs 5

paint glitter bugs 6

We are also showing our support for Jennie and her family by walking a Mile in Memory for Matilda Mae tomorrow at the Rare Breeds Centre in Kent.  If you would like to help, you can donate here to support the work of the Lullaby Trust, and you can buy something lovely in the Matilda Mae Memorial Auction which will be launched tomorrow.  Sharing this post, and any of the posts I have linked to, would also help, so please do that too as much as you can.  Thank you.



Our Bank Holiday Weekend

Last Friday, after a morning of violin lessons and Musicbox, we had a quiet afternoon at home, mostly spent in the garden.  Rabbit wanted me to watch her doing “gymnastics” on the climbing frame, and we had a lovely time together while the boys were otherwise occupied.  Then Tiddler came and joined in and they played together for a while.  I really enjoyed spending time with them outside, making the most of the sunshine (which has since disappeared) and the garden (which is a bit of a mess but has some nice bits).  There is blossom on the pear tree.

pear blossom

There may or may not be pears.  Probably not, but for now it is doing a good job of making the garden look better.  There is also blossom on both the apple trees (much bigger and more established than the pear tree) and they look amazing, but I haven’t photographed them yet.  After climbing and hanging from monkey bars for a while, the little ones wanted me to push them on the swings so we did that for a while, and then we decided to dig and weed the vegetable patch.  This is a very small raised bed which has been abandoned since last summer, and it was completely overgrown with weeds.  I should have taken a proper “before” picture but it didn’t occur to me until about half way through.  Anyway, after about 45 minutes of really hard work by me and Rabbit (and some “help” from Tiddler) it looked like this.


We carried on for another 45 minutes, and more or less cleared it but hadn’t got all the roots out when we had to abandon the project because daddy had arrived with pizza for supper.  The children asked for angel delight for pudding, and of course it had to be in the Tuff Spot so we had an impromptu messy play session.  I made some strawberry angel delight and quickly found a few other things for them to play with/ eat: oats, rice pops, raisins and icing sugar.  They had a wonderful messy time, while we sat in the garden drinking wine and getting in the bank holiday mood.

messy pudding 2a    messy pudding 2b

Saturday was mostly spent on children’s activities (dramabuds, choir and playing at home), housework, more digging and weeding, and also sorting out some of our clutter which has been sitting in a life-laundry style tent in our garden for ages.  We decided that bank holiday weekend was a good time to deal with it properly, as we’d had enough of looking at the tent taking up space in the garden.  On Sunday, daddy took the children to church while I did yet more housework, and we did another stint of clutter sorting after lunch.  Rabbit, Tiddler and I planted some pumpkin seeds in the vegetable patch.

veg patch

So this is our “after” photo for now, though I hope to be able to add photos of pumpkins growing in due course!  We then went round to Granny’s house, where our friends from 3 kids and a gluestick joined us.  The children played, the mummies supervised, and the daddies attempted to sort out tools, clutter and cars(!) in Granny’s garage.  I think the sorting was only moderately productive, but the children had a lovely time and we had the first barbecue of the season.

On Monday, we had planned to go to Morden Hall Park, but I decided we couldn’t go until the tent was down, as I was starting to think it would become a permanent fixture in our garden.  So we had a final push and sorted out the rest of the stuff, setting aside some to give away or sell, returning a few useful items to the house, and making a satisfyingly huge pile of stuff to go to the dump.  Once we had done this, it was lunch time, so we abandoned our picnic plans and had lunch in the garden.  Three glasses of wine later (in my case as I was not driving), we did actually manage to get the children rounded up and out to Morden Hall.  I will blog this separately, as I am going to try and make the most of our National Trust membership this year, and write individual blog posts about each place that we visit.  We have signed up to the 50 things campaign which has just been relaunched, and I am determined to do more with it than we did last year.

So that was our Bank Holiday, busy and productive, but also fun, though not exactly restful.  I feel like I need a holiday to recover!

Bubbles and a Trifle Smash for Matilda Mae

Yesterday was a special day.  It should have been a day of celebration for Jennie and her family as their baby girl Matilda Mae toddled around the farm on a holiday specially planned for her first birthday.  But, as many of you know, baby Tilda died three months ago from SIDS.  Since then both her parents have been amazingly strong, supporting each other, grieving but also celebrating the life of their baby girl and raising awareness of the Lullaby Trust.  They have also been carrying on as much as possible with their everyday activities, outings and treats, and wonderful messy play at home for their toddler twins.  Like many others, I have been impressed by the way they have put the twins’ needs first, whilst at the same time doing everything they can to honour the memory of Matilda Mae and trying to find the space they need to grieve.

And so they made the decision to continue with the holiday they had planned, and to make the 2nd May a celebration, a positive day in as much as it could be and a happy day for the twins.  And then in the evening, when the twins were in bed, they said their own goodbyes to Tilda.  You can read their story here.

Like many other bloggers and tweeters, I was thinking of Jennie all day yesterday in everything we did.  We wore pink and purple and stars for Matilda Mae, as Jennie had asked people to do on the day of her funeral.  In the morning we made jelly, ready for our messy play in the afternoon.  I had been planning to do a Trifle Smash for a while, having been inspired by Susanne, and it felt like the right thing to do it Tilda’s birthday.  I took Tiddler for his swimming lesson (he wore his star swimming shorts) and then came home for lunch.  Next we went out for an ice cream, and then we came back to blow bubbles in the garden for baby Tilda.  The children were worried they weren’t going high enough in the sky, until Owl decided that when bubbles pop they reappear in heaven.


Later in the afternoon, I set up both Tuff Spots outside, cleaned them thoroughly with help from Rabbit and Tiddler, and got everything we needed for our trifle smash: the jellies we made earlier, custard, trifle sponges, butterscotch angel delight, bananas, sprinkles, snowflakes (leftover from Christmas but I decided they looked quite like stars!) and lots of bowls, plates, cake cases, spoons and assorted utensils.  All the children joined in enthusiastically and played, ate and made a wonderful mess.  They decided trifle sponges were too hard so we soaked them in fruit juice, which made them too mushy so they didn’t eat many of them, but everything else was very popular.  They played for a long time, and I suddenly noticed that it should have been supper time but of course they were too full to eat anything else.  Later, while Owl was at Cubs, I gave the little ones toast and peanut butter, cheese and milk, but when Owl came back I forgot to give him any.  I remembered at midnight that he hadn’t had any supper.  Spectacular mummy fail!  However, he didn’t seem too bothered when I pointed out to him this morning that he hadn’t had supper last night.  I have always said that of all my children Owl would be the one who would forget to eat because he is too busy playing.  I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten to feed him before though.  Rabbit has asked to play with Angel Delight again this afternoon, but this time I think I will give them their supper first!

trifle smash 1  trifle smash 2

trifle smash 3  trifle smash 4

Jennie, we will always remember Matilda Mae xx

candle for MM

Pink pudding and gloop!

Today we had home education group at our house again.  It was a sunny day, hot enough for sunhats and suncream, and the children played in the garden all afternoon.  It was really good to see our friends, including some who hadn’t been for a while.  It was nice to have the old crowd back together (with the addition a very lovely baby boy who was born two weeks ago!) and the children had a brilliant time.    We made the most of having two tuff spots, and set up one with pink pudding (strawberry angel delight) and one with gloop (cornflour and water), and an assortments of bowls, cups and utensils.  I also added cake cases this time, and some of the children enjoyed making angel delight cakes.  Between the two tuff spots and the play sink, the children were very happy and busy all afternoon.