One of the things I am always realizing is that as a Kindie teacher I constantly have some type of mess on me. It’s either paint, glue, food, play dough, glitter (which I don’t mind at all) or some other form of goo that only a child can create…but we’ll save that for another post. We are allowed to wear jeans only one day a week, but I love those days because jeans are so easy to wash a mess out of!!! Kindie teachers should get a clothing allowance as hazard pay… am I right?!?
But don’t get me wrong! I love the mess! Messes mean kids are learning, kids are exploring, and kids are developing.
In my classroom, most messes mean that kids are working on either gross or fine motor skills. I have a short but fun list below of my five favorite messy activities for my Kindies that I introduce at the beginning of the school year. These are great for school or at home so any momma and/or daddy readers out there, you can have fun with messes too!
1. Paint, paint and more paint! Kindies need to paint and paint a lot. Painting on the easel, painting (with water) on the sidewalk or side of the building, painting lying on their backs with paper taped to the bottom of a table… the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Have them paint from their imagination, paint what they see, paint their names, their letters, their numbers. At the beginning of the year, I wish you good luck in deciphering what it is they just painted. PRO TIP: Lead with the phrase “So tell me what you did here?!?” This helps prevent the misinterpretation that the picture of the cupcake they had for lunch is actually a picture of their momma. Painting helps littles to develop both gross and fine motor skills, sparks their creativity and instills a love of art at a young age. Like Picasso said, “Every child is an artist!”
2. Sand! My students love the sand table. I use it to help my kids interact with many different textures, learn how to share/take turns, explore the environment around them and problem solve. In the beginning of the year, I use kinetic sand and a lot of different tools like scoopers, rakes, shovels, etc. (click the link to see my favorites). The simple act of playing in the sand is a great beginning activity that also helps the kiddos learn the rules of the Sand and Water Table! i.e., The sand box is not a litter box… Later in the year we will have more themed materials/activities like cars and trucks with rocks and sand or shells with ocean creatures! So much messy fun!
3. Play Dough! Pulling, stretching, cutting and forming play dough is always the way to go! My students start with Play Dough the first week of school. It builds up those little muscles in their hands and provides a great way to form the letters in their name early on. Throughout the school year I will put different tools, including themed cookie cutters, with the Play Dough to keep things fresh. While messes are fun, containing that mess really helps in maintaining your sanity! I absolutely love these Easy Clean Craft Trays from Lakeshore Learning. Each student gets their own personal work space and learns to always keep the Play Dough on the tray. When their turn is over, they know to clean up their own mess. Now if I could only get my husband to do the same…
4. Soapy Water! My Grammy always said “Put a crab in water and they will be happy!” Truer words have never been spoken. Water is soothing, fun, clean and kids love it! Kids can pour and measure water, make colored water, bubble up and have a car wash in water, play sink or float, etc! There are so many great ways to incorporate water into math and science lessons as well. Short of having a bathtub in the classroom, this is definitely the next best option :0)
5. Shaving Cream! Ok I know I might have just lost some of you… Shaving Cream? Is she crazy! Well the jury is still out on that one. Yes, this tops the charts with messy but it’s an absolute blast and a great medium to use with kids. We use shaving cream to practice writing letters and numbers, to mix colors, to create foam or puffy paint and draw pictures. Plus it leaves a very clean smell in your room for the rest of the day :0) My favorite thing to do is squirt a dollop of shaving cream onto my trusty Lakeshore trays, add a sprinkle of glitter and let my kindies practice forming their numbers. They love it, I love it and we use glitter, so fun!
I hope these ideas can give you a little inspiration for having messy fun in your classroom!
Enjoy and Happy Teaching!