Epic List of Messy Play Recipes

These messy play recipes are just what you need for tons of messy play with the kids! They’ll have a blast diving into all of the messy sensory and art ideas inspired by these recipes.

Lots of things can be used to create messy play invitations for kids, from 1-ingredient messes to more complex play. But there are some tried-and-true art and sensory play recipes that are musts when it comes to messy play. And I’ve gathered them all in one spot for you!

collage of preschool activities with text that reads messy play recipes

Below you’ll find recipes for doughs, slimes, paints, and more. Basically, I tried to include the basic recipes for as many messy play invitations as I could think of.

Then I also included ideas based around each of the recipes. That way you have some extension ideas alongside all of the recipes! Not a bad deal, right?!

Materials for the Messy Play Recipes

Before I jump into the messy awesomeness, lets talk supplies. Many of the recipes below don’t require that many materials, which is a bonus. There are some that take a few more than usual, but the bulk don’t fit into that category.

So take a peek at the materials you already have on-hand. Then decide which of the messy play recipes you want to try first. If you’re missing any supplies, go out and grab them before getting into all the fun.

Here are some messy supplies you’ll need for the recipes:

If you have a stash with those basic ingredients, you’re probably set to go! You can decide later if you want to pick up any additions – those materials that aren’t necessary, but add some extra pizazz. Things like:

Messy Play Recipes

Now it’s time for all of the recipes! For each category below, I share the basic recipe first. After that, I collected some extension activities to go along with it.

How to Make Cloud Dough

Let’s start things off with cloud dough. I’m going with what I refer to as cloud dough (many others do, too). But it’s also called moon dough or moon sand sometimes. Apparently, we all can’t seem to agree on one name for it! No matter what it’s called, it has an amazing texture and keeps the kids engaged.

7 cloud dough activities

Here’s the very simple cloud dough recipe:

  • 8 cups flour
  • 1 cup oil

And that’s it! Just those 2 ingredients. You can use vegetable oil or baby oil, depending on your preference. The vegetable oil is better suited for the younger kids. And here are some variations to try out:

Cloud dough, like the rest of these messy play recipes, is very much an open-ended activity. You can color it, add all types of sensory tools to it, and incorporate a wide variety of toys into the dough. You can even add scents to make it even more of a multi-sensory experience.

Play Dough Recipes

There are so many great play dough recipes out there! Below are some of my favorite basic play dough recipes, as well as a few others I’ve tried and loved.

4 DIY play doughs

My favorite 2-ingredient play dough is sometimes called cloud dough by others. It’s what we used for our unicorn play dough. It’s a mix of:

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup conditioner

When it comes to more traditional play dough recipes, these are my two favorites:

5 homemade play dough recipes

And here are more play dough ideas we’ve had great luck with:

Just like the cloud dough, you can add all sorts of things to your play dough! Make adjustments based on what you and the kids are learning about right now.

Different Slime Recipes

We can’t talk about messy play recipes without touching on how to make slime, can we?! My favorite basic slime recipe is:

  • 5 ounces glue
  • 4 ounces warm water (optional)
  • 4 ounces liquid starch
7 slime activities for kids

Of course there are SO MANY different ways to make slime. On top of that, there are also so many ways you can change things up to make different slime variations. Here are some slime activities to inspire you:

If your kids are super into all things slimy, be sure to check out my collection of different types of slime from A to Z. Or you can get creative and change the basic slime recipe as you see fit.

How to Make Oobleck

Next up is oobleck! This is another one I just HAD to include in our epic list of messy play recipes. Our favorite non-Newtonian fluid is a must-try for young kids.

7 oobleck activities for kids

The basic oobleck recipe is:

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Of course, you and the kids can experiment with the measurements of each ingredient. Just until you get the exact consistency you prefer. And here are some oobleck-filled messy ideas to try:

Have fun testing out new versions of oobleck with your students. If you’re feeling super adventurous, maybe you can even try walking on oobleck!

Homemade Paint Recipes

You definitely don’t need to make your own paint, but sometimes it’s fun to try with the kids. When I want a super simple homemade paint, I like to mix warm water with Jell-O powder. It adds a bit of scent to the paint, making it even more fun for the kids.

6 homemade paint recipes

So if you’re up for making some of your own paints, try these messy play recipes:

Which of these recipes do you think your students would enjoy the most? Maybe you can take some time to test out of each of the paints!

How to Make Soap Foam

This is one of the “cleaner” messy play recipes in this collection! But take my word for it, the foam can get everywhere. Here’s the very basic soap foam recipe:

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons soap
6 soap foam activities for preschool

You can experiment with the amounts of water versus soap. Some people like to use bubble bath or body wash, but I tend to fall back on using dish soap. Corn starch can be added to the basic recipe to help keep things a little thicker. But, honestly, I forget about that most of the time!

Here are more soap foam recipes and activities to try with the kids:

Depending on the ages of your students, they can even help you use a mixer to make the soap foam.

Foam Dough Ideas

You definitely need to add foam dough to your messy play recipes! The basic recipe just needs 2 ingredients, and it’s easily adjusted for any theme or topic. The base foam dough recipe is:

  • 1 cup shaving cream
  • 1 cup cornstarch

As I’ve said with many of the other recipes here, you can test out the proportions of the ingredients. For example, sometimes we use more shaving cream . . . closer to 1 1/2 to 2 cups instead.

7 foam dough messy play recipes

Here are even more foam dough ideas:

As with the other messy play recipes, foam dough is open-ended and very customizable!

Even More Messy Play Recipes

There are a few “recipes” that didn’t fit into the above categories. But I still wanted you to have them, so I’m tacking them on at the end:

Now the only question is . . . which of these awesome messy play recipes will you try first?! Be sure to pin this post for future reference.

Done-For-You Preschool Resources

Let Preschool Teacher 101 make your teaching life easier with fully-developed preschool resources. We have over 100 lesson plan packs, as well as digital games, dramatic play activities, STEM challenges, math resources, circle time songs, and more.

Click on the images below to check out some of our resources:

preschool zoo dramatic play cover
Zoo Dramatic Play
preschool 5 senses lesson plans cover
5 Senses Lesson Plans
Play outside song pack preschool resource cover.
Play Outside Song Pack
collage of messy play activities with text that reads recipes for sensory play

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