5 Fun Messy Play Activities To Help Children Talk

5 Fun Messy Play Activities To Help Children Talk

5 Fun Messy Play Activities To Help Children Talk

As parents, caregivers and teachers, we are constantly looking for fun and meaningful ways to engage our children. However, in our enthusiasm to help them learn to speak, many of us forget the one activity that all children love, and that forms the basic building block of communication- play!

Messy Play promotes communication and talking skills.

Here are 5 Fun Messy Play Activities To Help Children Talk Activities that parents and therapists can use.



  1. Oobleck

Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid. That means it sometimes behaves as a solid and sometimes as a liquid. But even if you’re not interested in the science behind it, it’s still a lot of fun and is a highly enjoyable activity for children who like goo.

What you need:

Cornstarch or Cornflour


Just mix 2 parts of cornstarch to 1 part of water. Add food colouring or paint if you want. You might want to play around with the ratio to get the right consistency- it should form a tight ball of dough when you compress it in your hands, but ooze out like a liquid when you relax your fingers. Obviously, get your little one to help in the making of the Oobleck. Apart from imitation skills, following directions and eye contact, you can also work on finger dexterity, teach tracing shapes and letters, measuring and so on.

rainbow spaghetti

  1. Rainbow Spaghetti

What you need:

  • Cooked spaghetti noodles (or any kind of pasta)
  • Food colouring
  • Some containers

Divide a large batch of spaghetti into smaller containers. Stir in food colouring using skewers, spoons or even your fingers. Let your child choose the colours, request (verbally or nonverbally) for utensils and see if they can ask for help when they need help (especially opening the bottles of colouring). We used the spaghetti to play hide-and-seek with plastic animals, to match colours and work on grasping skills. One child just wanted to throw the spaghetti against the wall and try to make it stick, but if you want to do that, stick to the bathroom!

puffy paint rainbow

  1. Puffy Paint Prints

This activity works well for children who like getting their hands dirty and don’t mind sticky textures. If they’re at that stage where they are putting everything in their mouths, keep an eye on them. Puffy paint tastes disgusting enough to discourage them from actually eating it, but if it doesn’t, skip this activity or use a recipe for edible puff paint.

 What you need:

  • Shaving foam
  • White liquid glue
  • Paints or food colouring
  • Skewers/ spoons for mixing
  • Card paper

The exact ratio of shaving foam to glue varies, depending on whom you ask. Mix roughly 2 parts of foam to 1 part of glue, to begin with. More glue makes the paint firmer, but also flatter. More foam will make it puff up more, but it’ll take longer to dry. Add a few drops of food colouring and make swirls, trails and patterns in the foam mixture. Dab it on the card paper just as you would paint. It takes forever to dry, but the fun is in the making of the paint! Also, colouring within the lines is strictly optional.

For edible puffy paint:

Mix 1 part of self-rising flour (or maida with some baking soda and salt), 1 part of salt, a little bit of water at a time and some colouring. Make a thick paint, use it on your card paper and microwave the paper for 30 seconds. The paint should puff right up!

  1. Shredded Paper Fun

Have a kid who hates wet, slimy, sticky textures? Or have an entire trunk of newspapers lying around at home? Making shredded paper just might address both those issues. Just shred all that old paper into long, thin ribbons or strips. A shredder works best for this, but if you don’t have one, scissors will do just fine. Better still, get your child to tear the paper with their hands.

shredded paper

You can then just play with the paper (pull the ribbons apart, pour them on your heads, hide things in the paper, throw paper up in the air, etc), or you can make it part of a bigger activity. You could “Find Spot”, build a house of straw for the first pig in “The Three Little Pigs” or make a haystack in a barn. Use your imagination and pair it up with your book reading or any role-play activity.

  1. Cotton Ball Art and Craft

With a little bit of imagination, cotton balls can be elevated from their bathroom-drawer status to being an integral part of several stimulating art and craft activities. Try balling up cotton, dipping them in glue and pasting within a defined boundary to make a soft and fluffy art piece. To make it more challenging, use clothespins to pick cotton balls up, dip them in the paint and use that to create patterns on paper.  If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and are unfazed by messes, use a tiled wall or washable vertical surface as a “target”.

cotton ball

Get your children to make slightly larger balls of cotton, dip them in washable paint and throw them at the target surface. Lay out lots of paper sheets to completely cover the floor around. It’s even better if you can take this activity outdoors. It’s unbelievably messy, but you can have some “Fireman” role-play and get the children to hose down the paint-covered surfaces. Or they could be a “painter” and use plain water and cloth to help you clean up. This works on their language, fine motor as well as gross motor skills.

This article has been written by our guest blogger Neha Lakshmish who is a Speech Language Therapist based in Singapore.

We would love to hear if you liked these ideas! Do share the messy play activities that you use in your interactions with your child.

Pratiksha Gupta
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