Miss Marta and I had a blast at Messing Around last week and we hope you did too! If you weren’t able to make it or would like to try any of these stations yourself, here’s a breakdown of what we did.
Here’s what the room looked like before…
And here is after! Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.
Phew! What a mess! But everyone had so much fun that it was definitely worth the time we spent cleaning up afterwards.
Moon Sand: Also known as kinetic sand, we have used this in programs before. It can be molded like wet sand but never dries out, and you can buy it in lots of cool colors.
Pudding Fingerpainting: For this station we made vanilla instant pudding and added neon food coloring. If we did this program again I would use white chocolate pudding instead. I forgot vanilla pudding is yellow, not white, and so the colors came out a little wonky. Still lots of fun to finger paint with though (and pretty tasty!).
Crunch-up Bins: This station was the easiest to set up; all it takes was some different types of cereal (we used Froot Loops, Cheerios, Rice Chex, and Frosted Flakes) and saltines in a bin and a hammer to crunch them up with! This station seemed to appeal most to the youngest kiddos in the room.
Jello Dig: I made 3 family sized boxes of strawberry Jello and dropped some small toys in the containers before putting it in the fridge to set. Children could then dig through the Jello to pull out the cars, blocks, and dinosaurs or just squish it in their fingers.
Shaving Cream Color Mixing: Just a bin full of shaving cream with some Crayola paint. They could squirt a little paint onto the shaving cream and mix it up. This is a fun sensory experience, but because it needs to be dumped out and given fresh shaving cream after every use, it works best for using one-on-one. I would probably leave it out for a program like this again.
Puffy Painting: I LOVE puffy paint! It is super easy to make – just equal amounts white glue and shaving cream with food coloring – and dries really vibrant with the coolest texture. With this kind of paint, less is not more. To really get the best puffy texture to your finished painting, you’ll really want to load up the brush with paint. It does take a while to fully dry, but if you set them out overnight that should be plenty long enough.
Fizzy Cloud Dough: We got the recipe for fizzy cloud dough from Powerful Mothering. The original recipe calls for a cup of flour, a cup of baking soda, and a 1/4 cup vegetable oil, as well as some vinegar to squirt on it to make it fizz. It also needs either powder or oil-based (the kind usually used for candy) food coloring if you want different colors. We quadrupled the recipe for each color for a group setting like this (not all of what we made is in the picture). The cloud dough by itself is pretty fun to play with, a lot like the moon sand. But when squirted with the bottles of vinegar, it fizzes and foams! The kids enjoyed mixing it up into a big gloopy mess.
Shaving Cream Pool: Just what it looks like, a kiddie pool full of shaving cream! We also threw in some play food, bowls, plates, and utensils. This station was VERY popular. I think we used approximately 15 cans to fill it up as much as you see in the “before” picture.
Dinosaurs in Sand: also just what it looks like! The dinosaurs stomped around in a sandy environment that kids pretended was a desert or beach. I thought about adding some water to the bin or making “mud” out of instant hot cocoa mix and a little bit of water to make this a really messy station, but the kids enjoyed it regardless. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
Ocean Water Table: Multi-colored water beads, some water, and a set of sea animal toys for kids to play with and explore. A lot of the younger children seemed to enjoy squishing the water beads as much as anything else though. We also wanted to have a calmer, less messy station for those who might get overwhelmed by the other things we had available.
Chalkboard: Can’t go wrong with chalk on a chalkboard. I’ve found with programs like this it helps to write or draw something before the kids come in so they know it’s okay to use it.
And that’s what we did at Messing Around! I had so much fun with this program. If you’re ever feeling brave enough to tackle a messy program at your library or try one of these activities at home with your own kids, I think it is well worth the time cleaning up. We saw lots and lots of smiles and excited faces from little ones thrilled with the opportunity to dig in and get messy.