Physical Development

More ways to use a builder’s mixing tray for messy play

Almost every day I see Daisy involved in some form of messy play. She’s either doing messy play at home or Mummy, and sometimes Daddy, takes her to a Messy Play Activity Session. Messy play activity sessions are available around the country and you can find what’s available locally for you with an internet search for “messy play near me”.

If you’re uncertain about doing messy play with your child/grandchild then going together to one of these sessions will help. You can see what kind of messy play can be set out and what equipment to use. You can watch your child/ grandchild play and see which activities they enjoy the most and see just how much they are learning through messy play. When you go home from a literacy group you read more books at home. When you go home from singing and signing you carry on singing and signing. And after a messy play session, your child/grandchild will enjoy developing their skills with more messy play at home.

Having a builder’s tray makes messy play indoors easier to do together and then when the weather is warm you can take the messy play outside and be REALLY messy. Let me again recommend Helen Bromley’s 50 Exciting Ways to use a Builder’s Tray by Lawrence Educational and available from


We have set up some messy play with plastic covers and throws under the builder’s tray and covering other surfaces. We always make sure we have a towel and wipes nearby and ready for the moment that Daisy decides she’s had enough of this messy play.

We make sure that Daisy is appropriately dressed for the messy play so when she’s playing in water, she just has her nappy on and a top, sleeves pushed up. Daisy wears an apron with sleeves for some messy activities but other times she just wears something that Mummy doesn’t mind her getting covered in paint, dough etc.
And most importantly, we’re always close by to ‘supervise’ Daisy’s messy play. She’s too young to be left alone.

My previous experiences of messy play with sand have been of just how far sand can migrate. Remember spending a day at the beach and finding sand everywhere in the car and back home? Sand can irritate children when it gets on their hands and in their hair. So I was delighted to find that these experiences can be avoided when using Spinmaster’s widely available Kinetic Sand for messy play. It has similar qualities to wet sand and because it can be moulded and keeps it shape it doesn’t spread so easily and can be used indoors.


For this session of play with the kinetic sand we put out empty beakers, a potato masher, cutlery, pastry cutters and a quantity of bottle tops. And then we joined the play with Daisy. Together we filled the beaker with sand and turned it upside down. Daisy liked us to make beaker shaped towers or cut-out shapes with the cutters which she enjoyed sticking her cutlery into and knocking down.

She squeezes the sand in her hands and is beginning to investigate what the different cutlery can do to the sand but she relies on us to press the cutters and moulds into the sand. Daisy watches us as we use the moulds and cutters and we’re showing her how this equipment can be used so I don’t think it will be long before Daisy can use these moulds and cutters too.


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