Play Advice · Sensory Play

A Manageable Mess- activity and clean up

I am about to say something crazy. Maybe even terrible. You might even dislike me after the statement is out.  It is important to let your munchkins play messy. I’ve lost my mind you say? Yes probably, but the statement remains true. Playing with something messy can teach our children important concepts. I know it can be inconvenient or stressful on mommy, so I understand if you are not up for the challenge. But if you are willing to trust me I have a simple, easy clean up, wonderful messy play for you and your little to try.


  • Corn starch
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Marbles (or another small and easily washed object)
  • Container (bowl, dish, bathtub)
  • Cup for holding water
  • Something to mix with (Spoon, fork)

Set up

  • In a bowl add 1/2 cup corn starch (or more)
  • Add a little water
  • Place child on hard floor (NO CARPET) or in the bathtub (NO I AM NOT KIDDING)


Tip: I chose to put my toddler IN a high chair OVER our wood floor. She is not a very messy child so I knew this would be manageable for me. If you are at all questioning how messy this will be or you know your child could receive an A+ in mess making strip that little hooligan down to his diaper or undies and plop them in the bath for the activity.

Activity Time

Once your child is in a good place for a mess let the activity begin. I handed my daughter the bowl and a fork and asked her to mix it up. I had added a little extra water so she could do the mixing by herself. Once she had it mixed we plopped in a few marbles. This sounds so simple but the different textures involved in this step alone was mesmerizing. She kept telling me her hands were messy. I would tell her, “I know, isn’t that so fun. It’s okay we can wash them off in the end.” Pretty soon she was declaring, “Mom, this fun!”

Once I feel she had gotten a little quality slime time I added a little more corn starch and a few drops of coloring. TIP: add the color right on top of the starch. This made a great marbling effect while we mixed.

With the added corn starch it was a lot harder for her to mix. After she had done as much as she wanted I stepped in to get it mixed fully. This time when she stuck her hands in she was met with a different texture. She could actually grab chunkfulls.

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She loved picking up a handful and watching it slowly drip down to the bowl. Sometimes she would shake her hands a little to get it off faster and of course there would be a bigger mess made. I would tell her, “Remember we want our goo to stay IN the bowl so we don’t loss any of it. Once it hits the floor we can’t play with it.” She really tried hard to keep the mess contained.

Next I had her find all the marbles in her goo. She had to work really hard to free them all from the sticky mess. After she found one she would drop it in the cup holder of the high chair. This was a HUGE hit. We would talk about how many she had found, their colors, if they were clean. She had me “HIDE” them over and over because she enjoyed this so much.

When I felt the activity losing a little enthusiasm I gave her a tiny container to make a cupcake in. (Yes my container is an Easter egg I still haven’t put away.) She made a couple different creations and it kept her going another 5 minutes.

I kid you not. This super simple activity kept my child happy and entertained for over an HOUR!!!!!! It was incredible. I stayed near by to keep an eye on the mess level. This means my kitchen got a deep clean and you can actually see my living room floor and couch because I had time to organize and tidy up!

Clean Up

The best part? Clean up was a breeze. Yes this was a messy activity but it took hardly anything to pick it up. For in the moment pick up a wet rag or paper towel picks up the goop in 3 swipes. The water on the rag makes it more liquid and it is easily wiped up.

For you procrastinators…or people who clean their children up first then need to clean up the kitchen all you need is a broom and dustpan. When the goop sits for a bit it dries out and then it is like sand! I just knocked everything off the seat and table and swept it up in a few seconds.


Messy Bathers: All you need to do with a kid in the tub and the mess all around is loss the undies and squirt them off! I would remove any chunks of goop you can and then simply squirt your messy monster down! Have them grab cupfuls of water and a washcloth and make sure any messes on the side of the tub get cleaned off.

What about the messy monster, who wasn’t in the bath, you ask?


Put that kid to work! I just popped my girl up at the kitchen sink and asked her to clean up the mess. She loved it. If she can use mommy’s special scrubber she is sold. In the process of getting her marbles shiny and clean she also ended up with clean hands.

If you are anxious about messy indoor play this is the activity to start with! It is a perfect way to let your little one experience some new textures, problem solve, experiment, set boundaries, and be messy without you losing your mind! I hope it goes wonderfully for you!!!

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