Messy Play Date

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Posting for us today is Amber from Click Pray Love – you all have LOVED her toddler play ideas in the past so we had to have her back to share again! Take it away Amber!
A few months ago I was introduced to Crystal and her blog Growing a Jeweled Rose (which I highly recommend visiting if you are looking for toddler activities).  I was very intrigued with the messy play dates she hosts in her home.
A few weeks passed and Crystal posted “Tips For Hosting A Messy Play Date.”  After reading her post, I was convinced I could host a messy play date.  I prepared and sent an email to several friends gauging their interest in attending.  A few things I included in the email (based on Crystal’s tips):
  • I will gladly gather the supplies and set up the stations (along with a place to rinse off once the fun has ended)
  • Each family will be asked to give $10 to cover the cost of the supplies and a small lunch for the children
  • I need at least 10 people to commit before moving forward
On May 30th, I hosted my first messy play date and it was a BLAST!!!!!!!  Including my son, there were 14 children (plus 4 little ones) and 12 moms.  
There were 5 stations:
  • Creature Catch-Digging in soil to find plastic insects, bugs, lizards, snakes, etc.
  • Paint a Rock-Self explanatory 🙂
  • Barnyard Sensory Play-Rice filled pool with Little People Barn, plastic animals, containers to fill, handkerchiefs, and cowboy hats
  • Bubble Bazaar-Pan full of bubble solution with various wands
  • Marker Madness– Paper hung with available markers and stickers
The kids absolutely loved the Barnyard Sensory Play.  They enjoyed filling the watering cans/cowboy hats with rice and pouring it into the farm.  They also enjoyed dumping it out onto the ground, which we tried to prevent as much as possible.  This was probably the most popular station.

Kids simply love bubbles, especially toddlers.  To keep my first messy play date set up more simple, I decided to fill a tub with bubbles and allow the kids to be as messy as the wanted.  They are more used to their moms (me included) trying to prevent them from spilling the bubbles, being annoyed because they aren’t using the wand correctly, etc.  

Not this time…….They were allowed to play to their hearts content and make as big of a mess as they wanted.

Kids love dirt and while some kids don’t love bugs most of them enjoyed digging for them.  Plus, it didn’t take long before those who weren’t interested in the bugs to begin using the various instruments (shovels, looking glass, nets, etc.) to simply dig the dirt.
Great catch!!

When brainstorming activities I thought about the things my son loves to do.  One of those activities is play with stickers.  He doesn’t love markers as much, but several of his buddies do.  I knew it would be easy to couple the two together and have a wall where the kids could stick and mark as they please.

Of course, this is where my son spent most of his time.
I did not anticipate how big of a mess the “Paint A Rock” station would be, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone.  I know it was a messy play date, but even this kind of grossed me out (keep scrolling to see the aftermath).

The play date began around 9:45 a.m. with lunch served around 11:15 a.m.  Following lunch, some played a little longer, but several had to go home for nap time.

We live in South Florida, so it was HOT, but you can’t keep your kids inside all summer.  Crystal hosts her messy play dates in her basement, which is another great option if you don’t have carpet.

There was a lot of set up, but I will definitely do it again.  It was totally worth the time, as the kids had a BLAST and it was great to chat with some of the mothers.

I am now planning a water based messy play date for July.

You can see more photos from our messy play date over on my blog Click.Pray.Love. and explore more messy play date ideas at Growing a Jeweled Rose.  
If you have any questions about hosting your own messy play date, feel free to email me at amboleslie{at}gmail{dot}com
Now, I’ll leave you with my little cowboy!!
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Allison Waken is a wife, mom of boys and Phoenix, AZ native. She has been creating inspiring content for All for the Boys since 2011. Allison loves travel, movies and spending as much time as possible with her family while she can!


  1. This is the best idea! Apparently my mom was ahead of the times when she stuck me on a pile of dirt in the front yard with the neighbor children.

  2. These are such great ideas! Seriously makes me miss summer and playing outside. 🙂

  3. Christine Howieson Reply

    What was the mess like with kids playing in the say bubbles first and then going in the sand and then going in the dirt? I know it is a messy play date though! I would be curious to see "after" photos of all the stations! 🙂

  4. I just did my own water one for my son's birthday…I will be posting pics of it soon on my blog. The parents at first were fine until the water guns turned on us but I jumped right in and they seemed to relax too. Funny how we forget to have fun as also!

  5. I love this idea! I tried to do a Messy Play Business, but it morphed into a daycare. These are great ideas!

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