5 Messy Play Ideas My Toddler Loved


Toddler parenting is a constant challenge.

Whether it’s getting them to eat, getting them dressed, or keeping them entertained for more than five minutes, it never seems to end! Over the past six months, I have tried countless activities with my daughter Jolene. We had multiple failures and successes along the way. These five messy play ideas lasted at least 30 minutes (and some up to an hour!). Any activity lasting longer than five minutes is a win in my book!

Cornstarch Paint

Using a muffin tin or similar container, mix 1 part cornstarch with 1 part water. Add a few drops of food coloring and mix to create washable paint! Jolene used her fingers, sponges, and paintbrushes to create a masterpiece on our concrete wall. This activity lasted over 45 minutes and washes off easily with the hose.

5 Messy Play Ideas My Toddler Loved

Jello Blocks

No, I am not nuts! I let my toddler play with Jello. And guess what? It went really well! I made a bunch of Jello and cut it into cubes. I set Jolene up in her plastic kiddie pool outside to encourage messy play. This one lasted over an hour! You can use gelatin powder and food coloring if you don’t want them eating sugary Jello.

5 Messy Play Ideas My Toddler Loved


If you aren’t already familiar with Oobleck, you’ve gotta try it! Simply mix 1 part water to 2 parts corn starch and add food coloring for fun! I used an entire box of corn starch and filled up a small sensory bin. Jolene loved feeling the ooze with her fingers and experimented with different containers and utensils. She got pretty messy, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching her experimentation process.

5 Messy Play Ideas My Toddler Loved

Icing Play Dough

This was the easiest (and tastiest) activity to make. All you need is 1 cup of frosting and 3/4 cup of corn starch. Place your frosting in a bowl, and mix in corn starch until it is no longer sticky. You can add more corn starch as needed until a ball of dough forms. Using your hands is best! If you used white icing, you can always add food coloring. I was surprised at how easily the icing turned into a dough-like form. Jolene sat at her high chair to play for easy clean-up.

5 Messy Play Ideas My Toddler Loved

Baking Soda Science

Using your muffin tin or similar container. Put a few drops of different food coloring in each spot. Cover the food coloring with spoonfuls of baking soda and then fill up some droppers or syringes with vinegar. Once Jolene saw all the different colors bubble up, she didn’t want to stop! We used a lot of vinegar, but it was a lot of fun!

baking soda science

Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these five messy play ideas! What is your favorite toddler activity?

Originally published October 2021.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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