Outdoor Messy Play!

It’s the best place for it, in my experience. ‘Outdoors’, that is. The clue’s in the name: Messy Play. It’s messy!

It all started with an old tin of Smash* I found in the kitchen cupboard.

It was spotted.

“What’s that, Daddy?”

Such innocent little faces. Such a loaded question.

“Um, you add water to it & it makes mashed potato. It’s too old though, so you can’t eat it.”, I hesitantly replied.

“Ooh, Daddy!”…here it comes, I thought… “Can we do messy play?”

They love messy play.

To be fair, I did have the Smash* in mind for messy play when I saw it. Just not then. It was already late: after dinner on a school day.

I tried to put them off.

You can probably guess how that turned out:


I poured the Smash* into a bigger container, then went back into the kitchen to find other stuff to meet the inevitable & imminent demand. By the time I returned Jake had found some water & had added it to the Smash*:  they were both terribly excited to find that it had indeed become mashed potato!

Actually that’s pretty much how our messy play works. They put the stuff I provide into their bowls & stir it. They add water. I say “Not too much water; the bowl is nearly full”. They ignore me. They say: “What else have you got?”. I rush back into the kitchen to find something else old / unwanted / cheap that they can they muck about with. I find a little container to put it into & a little spoon to go with it. I bring it out.

Repeat. Stir. Enjoy.

So in these budding Masterchefs’ bowls were varying quantities of Smash*, pasta, rice, cornflakes, mushrooms (that was very popular), margarine (double ditto), sugar, milk & cola.

When we got to the “Have you got any ‘x’?” –  “Yes, but I need it for eating” – “What else have you got?” stage I got a bit creative!

Tesco had very kindly delivered a very large pack of their laundry powder that I didn’t order. I had plenty of it, & it was free. In it went! With strict instructions that it was to go nowhere near any little mouths!

I added a little laundry liquid too. It was very blue: they loved that!

And all you budding chefs out there will no doubt be pleased to know that play sand also works very well in this particular type of inventive cuisine. Although I suspect good old Mr Blumenthal probably got there first!

The piece de resistance? Green dye, from Jake’s science set!

Jake made a cake, Ellie made soup, & they were both very happy with their creations.


I was tempted to cook their creations, but thought better of it. I’m not joking: I actually did that once. Bad idea.

While Ellie was posing Jake I think was still busy adding the finishing touches: a lovely ring of green dye around the edge of his cake. I was impressed: it looked great! Then he stirred it all in together with everything else.

It was about then that I noticed it was getting dark, & started saying things like: “It’s late, you need to go to bed soon, look: it’s getting dark!, come on it’s time to go inside, stop now please”. And they actually listened!

They ignored me of course, but at least they listened.

After a fair bit of nagging, bribery & corruption I did manage to get them to stop & head bedwards.

It just goes to show how much they love their messy play!

Especially when they don’t have to clean it all up afterwards…

*other brands of instant mashed potato are available. Probably. Although, to be honest, I don’t know of any.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

4 thoughts on “Outdoor Messy Play!”

  1. that messy play cooking fun just made you a top Dad in my book! What fun and so wise to have it outdoors. Kids love potion making and mixing and seeing how things turn out, The colouring really does give it that extra dimension. Thank you for sharing a fun and creative afternoon on Country Kids

  2. We often forget as adults how much fun it is for kids just to use their imagination (and lots of ingredients!) and make a mess. You’ve reminded me that I need to let mine loose….as long as its outdoors 🙂

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