A few months ago I was introduced to Crystal and her blog Growing a Jeweled Rose (which I highly recommend visiting if you are looking for toddler activities). I was very intrigued with the messy play dates she hosts in her home. I pinned a few, shared a few with my husband and asked him, "Do you think I could do that outside?"
A few weeks passed and Crystal posted "Tips For Hosting A Messy Play Date." After reading her post, I was convinced I could host a messy play date. I prepared and sent an email to several friends gauging their interest in attending. A few things I included in the email (based on Crystal's tips):
- I will gladly gather the supplies and set up the stations (along with a place to rinse off once the fun has ended)
- Each family will be asked to give $10 to cover the cost of the supplies and a small lunch for the children
- I need at least 10 people to commit before moving forward
The response was great, so needless to say I moved forward with planning 5 messy stations, setting the date/time, and organizing a small lunch.
On May 30th, I hosted my first messy play date and it was a BLAST!!!!!!! Including my son, there were 14 children (plus 4 little ones) and 12 moms.
There were 5 stations:
- Creature Catch-Digging in soil to find plastic insects, bugs, lizards, snakes, etc.
- Paint a Rock-Self explanatory :)
- Barnyard Sensory Play-Rice filled pool with Little People Barn, plastic animals, containers to fill, handkerchiefs, and cowboy hats
- Bubble Bazaar-Pan full of bubble solution with various wands
- Marker Madness- Paper hung with available markers and stickers
- Turkey/Cheese Sandwiches
- A friend offered to bring a tray of Cuban sandwiches and chips for the adults. Thanks Lisa!
The play date was set to begin at 10 a.m., but a few showed up early, so we started around 9:40 a.m.
The kids absolutely loved the Barnyard Sensory Play. They enjoyed filling the watering cans/cowboy hats with rice and pouring it into the farm. They also enjoyed dumping it out onto the ground, which we tried to prevent as much as possible. This was probably the most popular station.
Kids simply love bubbles, especially toddlers. To keep my first messy play date set up more simple, I decided to fill a tub with bubbles and allow the kids to be as messy as the wanted. They are more used to their moms (me included) trying to prevent them from spilling the bubbles, being annoyed because they aren't using the wand correctly, etc.
Not this time.......They were allowed to play to their hearts content and make as big of a mess as they wanted.
I LOVE this photo of my son's best bud Bradford. I just hope he doesn't beat me up for sharing it when he is a teenager :)
Kids love dirt and while some kids don't love bugs most of them enjoyed digging for them. Plus, it didn't take long before those who weren't interested in the bugs to begin using the various instruments (shovels, looking glass, nets, etc.) to simply dig the dirt.
Bennett and Noah made a great catch!!
Hannah LOVED the dirt!!!!
When brainstorming activities I thought about the things my son loves to do. One of those activities is play with stickers. He doesn't love markers as much, but several of his buddies do. I knew it would be easy to couple the two together and have a wall where the kids could stick and mark as they please.
Roman was diggin' the DINO and safari stickers!!
Of course, this is where my son spent most of his time.
Thanks for helping with the more challenging stickers Anna!
Don't you love Bella's colorful legs?
I did not anticipate how big of a mess the "Paint A Rock" station would be, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. I know it was a messy play date, but even this kind of grossed me out (keep scrolling to see the aftermath).
I sat out lunch around 11:15 a.m. The moms prepared the plates for their children and we all sat outside to eat. Following lunch, some played a little longer, but several had to go home for nap time.
There was a lot of set up, but I will definitely do it again. It was totally worth the time, as the kids had a BLAST and it was great to chat with some of the mothers.
I want to host a water based messy play date in June, but with vacation and VBS I am going to hold off till July (however, I am already brainstorming and have most of the plans set). Then, we'll be on break until baby #2 arrives and I move out of the "newborn fog." Hopefully, I will be able to resume when the weather is a bit cooler!!! Yay, for winters in South Florida.
Thanks to all of my friends who came and brought their children. You made the planning and set up totally worth it.
Crystal--Thanks for all of your help and for inspiring me to host a messy play date.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment.
Now, I'll leave you with my little cowboy!!