In the last few years I have become a Playcentre convert.

I joined Miramar Playcentre in Wellington when my twin boys were sixteen months old. Since then we have had our fair share of fun and many, many opportunities to get involved with messy play, to be part of our community and to grow and learn together in a supportive whanau-rich environment.

When we were asked to review the book Recipes for Messy Play‘ by the amazing Cathy Sheppard of the Wellington Playcentre Association, I knew that I would probably be quite biased. In an effort to bring you a more balanced review I asked the lovely Lydia from Always Made with Love to review it. Here is what she wrote.


“Messy play is one of the great joys of early childhood” ~ Cathy Sheppard

Towards the end of last year Sebastian and I were asked to review the book ‘Recipes for Messy Play‘ by the ladies at Kiwi Mummy Blogs. I knew it would be something Sebastian would love, at fifteen months he is at the age and stage where he loves experimenting with things and ‘messy play’ is one of the BEST ways to learn.

Messy play is so many things – fun, dirty, relaxing and creative. It is the freedom to play, experiment and explore. So much learning is done from playing.

Sebastian already has a love of the outdoors. Playing in the garden with the puppy. Digging around the sand pit. Splashing in a bucket of water, the dogs bowl or the paddling pool. He even mixes sand and water play together. So you can imagine how excited I was to be able give him the opportunity to experience messy play in LOTS of different forms.

As well as ’40 fun recipes’ for Messy Play this book gives you ideas of other ways you can incorporate Messy Play into your day. It also reminds you that messy play isn’t always dirty. Playing with paper (ripping it up) is a form of messy play. This idea meant one wet day early December we played with half a bag of cotton balls, yes messy (our floor was covered in white fluff afterwards) but lots of fun. Straight away I ‘post-it’ noted eight recipes to start off with and have made two of them so far with Sebastian loving them both. Some of the recipes are a bit ‘old’ for Sebastian, and even though I could do them with him I know he will get more out of them if I wait till he is a bit older.

Firstly, I made ‘Basic Playdough’. He had lots of fun squishing and squidging it, sticking straws into it and using cookie cutters to make shapes. We have even made a couple of hand prints which we dried and are going to paint and give as presents. Daddy and Mummy even had lots of fun making things with Sebastian, bringing back all those childhood memories of when we used to play with Playdough.

Secondly, I made up the ‘Soap Paint for the Bath’. Well, this could definitely be classed as MESSY! I am so glad for Sebastian’s first painting experience we started in the bath. He had so much fun painting the side of the bath and swirling his fingers through the paint mixing the colours. Being in the bath, it was also a breeze to clean up.

I can’t wait to try Sand Mousse / Slime / Dry Messy Play with Flour / Easy to Clean Finger Paint / Cornflour Gloop and Ice Chalk. These recipes are all on my to do list over the next little while. I don’t want to do them all at once as I feel it is important for Sebastian to also learn to play on his own with sand and water etc without my help all the time (I am always on hand supervising but not always doing with him).

We have had so much fun so far this Summer with this book, if you have pre-schoolers I would thoroughly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this book. There are so many fabulous ideas and you will have lots of fun yourself!

Do you do Messy Play with your children? What are some of your favourite activities for Messy Play?

Lydia, Always Made with Love


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