Sensory Play, Fine Motor Skills
Messy Play for Toddlers - Make a Pudding Sensory Bin -

Messy Play for Toddlers – Make a Pudding Sensory Bin

messy play for toddlers pumpkin patch pudding sensory play

Messy play for toddlers is the ultimate sensory experience. This pumpkin patch pudding activity is a great way to explore all of the 5 senses! 

Food in Play, the Pros and Cons

There are lots of benefits for incorporating food into play – it heightens the sensory experience by including both smell and taste and it helps children with sensory processing disorders get more comfortable with textures and tastes, to name a few.

But including food in play is not for everyone. Whether related to cultural preferences, school rules prohibiting it, allergies, or personal concerns related to food cost and waste, there are lots of reasons grown ups do not set up activities that include foods.

Our personal philosophy is to weigh the cost and benefits of including food in play. I have a son who is very selective with food and textures, so activities like this help him get more comfortable with the goal of expanding his palate. Weighing this benefit with the cost of a packet of pudding (less than $1.50), makes me comfortable to set this activity up for him. So for us, it is worth it! But, of course, we understand this analysis is not a one-size fits all scenario! 

Skills: 

Ages: 3 Years +

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Messy Play for Toddlers in Action!

Setting up this activity is super simple. It is a fun activity to do before it gets too cold outside, so that your kiddo can really dig in, make a mess, and then have it easily cleaned up with a hose!

In the video, you’ll see how my kids went from picking the pumpkins, to washing them up, transferring them to utility vehicles, that then delivered them to a tiny hole in one of their bins (great for fine motor skills too!).

Messy Play for Toddlers in Action!

Setting up this activity is super simple. It is a fun activity to do before it gets too cold outside, so that your kiddo can really dig in, make a mess, and then have it easily cleaned up with a hose!

In the video, you’ll see how my kids went from picking the pumpkins, to washing them up, transferring them to utility vehicles, that then delivered them to a tiny hole in one of their bins (great for fine motor skills too!).

messy play for toddlers pumpkin patch pudding sensory play

How to Create a Messy Play for Toddlers

Don’t forget that creating a sensory bin is all about letting the kids have fun and explore. Whatever pretty scene you have set up will likely get mixed up in minutes! Because of this, don’t make it complicated, and use what you’ve got to save time and resources.

In our bin, we used pumpkin pasta from Trader Joe’s that we tried and didn’t like! (Sorry, TJ, we love you but not your pumpkin pasta!). We also had some wheat cereal that looked exactly like hay bales, so I decided to throw those in as well! Of course, there are toy versions of both pumpkins and hay bales (linked below!).

For the soil, we had a packet of pudding, but you could also make your own DIY mud

All activities should be supervised by an adult. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links.

Materials

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Follow the directions on your box of pudding or our DIY mud recipe.

Step 2

Place items like pumpkins and hay bales on top of the “soil” and provide some tractors to inspire pretend play!

Step 1

Follow the directions on your box of pudding or our DIY mud recipe.

Step 2

Place items like pumpkins and hay bales on top of the “soil” and provide some tractors to inspire pretend play!

6 Reasons Why Messy Play is Important 

1. Language Development. Giving your children rich, textural experiences allows them to better communicate. If they can never touch something that is sticky, how will they know what to call and describe it?!

2. Physical Development. It takes time for children to develop the practical life skills to NOT be messy, and in order to figure that out they need to have opportunities to explore and strengthen their movements. If you always pour water for your child in a cup with a lid, how will they learn to pour correctly and not spill? To that end, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are often strengthened through messy play.

3. Sensory Development. Before a child can talk, they discover the world through their senses, and messy play allows them an incredible opportunity to explore through a sense or combination of senses.

4. Fosters Independent Play. The goal of messy play should be decided by the child. Messy play is such an immersive experience children often engage in the activity independently.

messy play for toddlers pumpkin patch pudding sensory play

5. Social Development. In a setting where multiple children are playing, sensory play also fosters social development where sharing and cooperation are often experienced.

6. Sparks Imaginations. Sensory materials are often open-ended materials allowing a child to use their imagination in the best possible ways. Dirt can become a mud pie, sand a construction site, and a bowl of water the ocean.

messy play for toddlers pumpkin patch pudding sensory play

6 Reasons Why Messy Play is Important 

1. Language Development. Giving your children rich, textural experiences allows them to better communicate. If they can never touch something that is sticky, how will they know what to call and describe it?!

2. Physical Development. It takes time for children to develop the practical life skills to NOT be messy, and in order to figure that out they need to have opportunities to explore and strengthen their movements. If you always pour water for your child in a cup with a lid, how will they learn to pour correctly and not spill? To that end, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are often strengthened through messy play.

3. Sensory Development. Before a child can talk, they discover the world through their senses, and messy play allows them an incredible opportunity to explore through a sense or combination of senses.

4. Fosters Independent Play. The goal of messy play should be decided by the child. Messy play is such an immersive experience children often engage in the activity independently.

5. Social Development. In a setting where multiple children are playing, sensory play also fosters social development where sharing and cooperation are often experienced.

6. Sparks Imaginations. Sensory materials are often open-ended materials allowing a child to use their imagination in the best possible ways. Dirt can become a mud pie, sand a construction site, and a bowl of water the ocean.

More Sensory Bins to Explore 

Here are my top picks for sensory bins, toys, and books you can buy.

Build Your Own Sensory Bin Bundle

This fun bundle allows you to choose between different compounds, figurines and other accessories.

Pre-Made Sensory Bins

Whether you want to explore the ocean, dinosaurs, ice cream shop and more. These pre-made kits make set up easy!

Monster Truck Arena

This sensory-play item is perfect for the monster truck fan! It comes with 2 pounds of monster dirt and a monster truck!

Sensory-Based Book

Sensory play doesn’t have to be messy! This fabric book is full of hands-on sensory-based activities!

What’s Next?

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