Fun Messy Play Outdoor Sensory Play Ideas For Children

This is a collaborative post, all views are my own.

My children adore messy play activities and now that spring is on its way, I am so pleased we can start doing them outdoors because I honestly can’t deal with the mess inside anymore! When the children were at nursery they used to do so many messy play activities but now they are at school it falls into my hands to keep this up at home. I wanted to create a post to share lots of ideas for affordable activities for kids and messy play if you’re looking for some sensory activities for kids of all ages. I’d love to know what messy play activities you do with your children, leave me a comment below!

create a messy play station with diggers and mud

Fun Messy Play Outdoor Sensory Play Ideas For Children

Sand pits

My children would happily spend a whole day at the beach digging in the sand, but for those days where we are staying at home a sandpit is a brilliant option for messy play. Fatmoose has a brilliant selection of sandpits with all sorts of configurations; ones with seats, lids and even one in a truck design steering wheels! Grab some diggers or dinosaurs and let their imaginations go wild.


Flour on a tray can be a great messy play activity. Let children add water to it and explore what happens to it as it gets messier and messier!

Seeds & grains

Line up different types and shapes of seeds and show the children how they can draw shapes or words with their fingers in them.

Shaving foam

Fill up an oven tray or tray with shaving foam – this is amazing fun for kids to play in, the more they mix it up the bigger it gets!

messy play shaving foam and dinosaurs

Water painting

A free messy play idea that my children love is to give them a bucket of water and large paintbrushes and let them paint the fences in the garden.

Bubbles and food colouring

Add 3-4 drops of food colouring to a bowl of water with bubble mixture and use a straw to blow colourful bubbles. (Not for young children in case they suck in the mixture)

Characters in Ice

A fun messy play idea is to freeze small figures into ice and get children to help them escape by chipping away at them or melting them with warm water. This messy play idea takes a long time too which is great for a warm day in the garden!

Paint in ziplock bags

This might be the best mess free messy play idea – add paint into ziplock bags and squish them around, draw pictures in them and mix the colours together. This is a quick and tidy sensory idea that you can keep and come back to time and time again.

messy play paint in ziplock bags


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