Messy Play Saturday! Going against the grain…

This week I decided today’s messy play would involve sand.

I have to admit I was nervous about Gabriel playing with sand at home, because at nursery he’s been known to eat it and thow it about.

I knew it was going to a challenge today. I hate mess! Today’s messy play is definitely going against the grain!

I bought some bags of sand this week whilst out shopping. They were so heavy! The cashier asked me what I was doing with all the sand, and I proudly told me that we were taking part in special project in memory of a very special baby girl, Matilda Mae. I could hardly carry the sand bags, they were so heavy!


After a morning trip to the park, I set about preparing the tuff spot for the sand play. I’d also bought some sand toys for us to use, including a sieve, two buckets, lots of different ‘sand tools’.


Before we began playing with the sand, I thought it would be a nice idea to make some flags for our sand castles! We sat at our table and coloured lots of flags. As you can see, I could not resist making some personalised ones for Crowtherclan and Matilda Mae. Daddy made a Grimsby Town flag (his football team). We also made a Union Jack, a St George’s Cross, some smiley faces, some hearts and also some lovely colourful flags by Gabriel.




Next we went into the playroom and began playing with the sand!





First we focussed on how the sand felt! We ran the sand through our hands and fingers, Gabriel copied us giggling away!

Then we attempted to build some sand castles, Daddy and I showed Gabriel how to fill his bucket up with sand then tip it over, tap it then release! Gabriel loved the part when we released the bucket. He clapped his hands with delight. It was like he thought it was magic, so lovely! I then took the flags we had made and placed some on the sand castles. Gabriel helped me by placing the rest all over the next few that Daddy made.



Gabriel wanted to put his cars and trucks in the sand. He placed them in onto the sand and made his familiar noise, ‘Ne nor ne nor’

He loved gliding his cars though the sand and watched the patterns that they made with their differing tyres. Daddy made a sand ‘bridge’ between the sand castles so the cars could pass between them. Gabriel loved it, and placed his Police cars on it as quickly as he could!


After a small incident regarding the trampling and demolishing of the sand castles by a certain toddler, we then decided to make a huge ramp for all the vehicles that were now in the tuff spot! Daddy set about making the ramp, whilst Gabriel set about throwing sand at his Sister while she innocently sat in her Bumbo!

Once built we added out flags to the sides of the ramp, then we had great fun driving the different vehicles to the top of the ramp and, after shouting ‘ready steady go!’ letting go and watching them go down the ramp! Gabriel has a slight obsession with slides at the moment, so he especially loved this part of the play!




We had a good hour or so playing with the sand, it was a quick and relatively easy messy play but we all enjoyed it! I think the sand play was great to see Gabriel’s creativity and it was really interesting to see him exploring the texture of the sand, sieving it through his hands and combing it with his fingers. I think we all found the sand play relaxing too, which of course during hectic weekends is an absolute bonus!



I am linking up with Jenny Edspire’s linky for this post, in memory of Matilda Mae :)


Messy Play


Our first messy play day!

Following Jennie from Edspire’s recommendation to buy a tuff spot (a cement mixing tray) to be used for children’s messy play I ordered one so we can join in with, ‘Messy Play- A Little Legacy Of Matilda Mae’ every Saturday. The tuff spot arrived last night- just in time.

I’ve been quite excited all week, awaiting instruction on how to go about being a part of my first ever blog linky! So here we go…

First, we had to of course tidy to playroom! It was an absolute tip and we had no space for the tuff spot. My husband and I joined forces and began re stacking toys, sorting Duplo and rearranging the foam flooring! Finally it was finished and we placed the tuff spot in the middle of the room, ready for today’s messy play.


I had had some ideas about what to put in the tuff spot- but because it was Gabriel who was going to playing with it, I took him to the Supermarket and let him choose what he wanted to put inside. Of course, at twenty one months old he really didn’t know what was going to happen with all the items but we had fun picking the items anyway!

We bought four bags of rice, a packet of cannelloni tubes, a huge bag of ice, some porridge oats, a box of sugar cubes, some glitter and a box of shredded cereal.

Once at home I coloured the rice into four colours to make it more fun looking. I added a flavour to each colour. I made the yellow rice vanilla scented and added gold glitter to make it look pretty and sparkly, the orange rice lemon scented, the red rice was strawberry scented and for the blue rice I mixed in some dried lavender. They all smelt amazing.


I wasn’t quite sure how to decorate the tuff spot. I’d seen pictures online of seaside scenes, gardens and castles etc but as Gabriel is still quite young and this type of play is relatively new to us I thought it best I keep things simple.

So I just put the ‘ingredients’ in the tuff spot in piles, adding the odd cannelloni tube here and there.. I placed a tray of ice cubes in the middle so they would be the last thing (and most exciting thing) Gabriel found. Simple but I thought it looked quite fun! (and smelt divine!)

Next I gathered a selection of toys I though Gabriel might want to play with in the tuff spot. I chose Lego animals and people, trucks and cars and also plastic cutlery, plates and pans etc.







When Gabriel came into the room he looked very intrigued about what I’d set up for him! He immediately came to inspect the tuff spot!

He began by touching the rice with his hands. He sieved the porridge oats through his fingers and giggled away. At first I don’t think he realised he was able to mix the rice colours up, or mix the porridge with the rice etc, but after a bit of gentle encouragement Gabriel began to throw the rice about, splashing and banging his toy plates and even throwing some at Daddy and I!

We all laughed so much as we played it was wonderful. Baby Willow sat with Daddy while he showed Gabriel how to fill the cannelloni tubes up with coloured rice and blow it out from one side! We also filled cups and pans up with the rice then had fun tipping it into different receptacles.

Gabriel tried to drive one of his toy Police cars through the tuff spot, making the noise, ‘Ne nor ne nor’ but realise quickly it was hard work because the ground was too bumpy!
I showed Gabriel how to make a clear ‘terrain’ for the car but moving the rice and oats with my hands. Gabriel copied me and loved shifting the ingredients about!

Daddy pretended to eat the coloured rice from his plate and pans, letting Willow pretend too. She liked to try grab the rice, and opened her mouth ready to taste it! She seemed to love the smell too. Maybe she’s getting ready for weaning, she seems more and more interested in food, I just can’t believe how fast she is growing.

I started to make a face in the tuff spot with the different colours. Gabriel giggled away once he saw the finished article!


We then pretended to build house with the sugar cubes. I counted them in fives, so we could practice our counting. Gabriel joined in, ‘…tree.. five’ He is so adorable!






I noticed that Gabriel hadn’t gone near the ice, so I took a toy car and piled it high with ice for Gabriel to play with. He did not like it! He shouted, ‘no no no’ and poured the ice out. He turned his whole body away from it in fact! Whether it was the shock of the coldness or the fact that he hates ice I don’t know! But either way his cries told me to move it away from him! Maybe we’ll try that another time.

In order to distract away from Gabriel’s icy meltdown (excuse the pun) I picked him up and held him upside down over the tuff spot. He loves being upside down and actively asks for us to do it. We say that the ‘Upside down man’ is coming, chase him and then flip him over. It’s his latest craze, which suits us because it is a great distraction technique especially in the middle of a tantrum! He giggles and laughs so much. Once over the tuff spot he tried to grab the rainbow rice, and throw some at Daddy and Willow. The ice was soon forgotten.






We had a great few hours. I’m really not very creative but having different materials and actually sitting down to play with Gabriel made me have no choice BUT to have a go. I have to admit, I had a great time! I think Daddy enjoyed the time sitting down as a Family as much as the play. He said it was so interesting and funny to see Gabriel’s reaction to so many new things at once, seeing him be cautious, then explore, then using his imagination and finally, playing.

Today I’ve learnt that Gabriel does not like (at the moment) using ice to play with! I’ve learnt that Willow likes to use her sense of smell to explore and likes yellow vanilla smelling rice the best. I’ve learnt that Daddy loves Lego more than Gabriel does, and that I actually don’t mind the playroom getting so messy when the babies have such big smiles on their faces. We’re already looking forward to next week.


Messy Play