Messy Play for Yucky Days


If you have toddlers or preschoolers, rainy weather can make for long, hard days … the kind of days where bedtime is 37 hours away and you want to do violence to DJ Lance Rock for being so cheerful. No? That’s just me?

If you know the kind of day I mean, read on, because there is hope for yucky days! A few basic ingredients and you can keep your little one occupied and provide that all important sensory stimulation we sometimes miss when cooped up indoors.

Edible Nontoxic Bathtub Paint


3 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
food coloring


Place all ingredients in pot and stir over medium heat until mixture becomes thick and opaque. Divide mixture into separate containers, a muffin tin works well, and add food coloring. Stir to incorporate. If you avoid certain food dyes, there are natural alternatives available at most local health food stores.

Place child in tub with paint, paint brushes, sponges, and various other implements of mess making. Watch as fun ensues. When fun is complete, turn on the shower and rinse the mess!

Kitchen Sink Suds

rainbow suds

This is one of our favorites and can easily be adapted for babies or preschoolers.


food color or non-toxic watercolors


Fill the kitchen sink half way with warm water and bubblebath. Add color, either food color or nontoxic watercolors. We do this activity frequently with my two year old and he loves watching the colors mix. Add balls or bowls or spoons for some added sensory stimulation.

Indoor Snow


Ivory soap


That’s it! Take a bar of Ivory soap and place it in microwave on a paper plate. Keep an eye on it and stop the microwave as soon as it stops “growing”.

Remove from microwave and allow fun to commence! If you want as little mess as possible, take the snow to the bathtub and let your kids go wild. It is soft and fluffy and moldable and just like the other fluffy white stuff we see so little of here in Columbia.

Moon Dough

This recipe is a little more in depth but the results are absolutely gorgeous. I can’t keep my hands out of this stuff when we make it.


4 cups play sand
2 cups cornstarch
1 cup water
2 tbsp powdered tempera paint
glitter to your little one’s heart’s content


Mix sand and corn starch in a large bowl until combined. Add in water little by little, stirring to incorporate. Depending on the humidity, you may or may not need the entire volume of water. You want it to be crumbly but not clumpy. It should hold together in ball-shape when squeezed.

When you’ve found the perfect consistency, add your paint powder, mixing with fingers (yours and your kiddo’s) until you have just the perfect color. Now add glitter. Lots of it. Go ahead, go crazy. You know you love glitter.

This one can get a bit messy, so spread a sheet or shower curtain on your surface if you don’t want to do a ton of sweeping later.

And there you have it. A few ways to keep your kiddo busy and learning while you keep your sanity (and post excellent pictures to your Facebook page) on those neverending soggy, rainy, South Carolina days.

What indoor sensory activities do you and your children take part in on rainy (or not so rainy) days?


  1. Awesome ideas!! I need to start doing stuff like this! I have a couple questions:

    For the bubble bath one, how much soap do you add, or do you just add until it’s frothy enough?

    And for the moon dough, where do you buy the powdered paint? I’m sure craft stores probably… But do you know if Walmart or target, etc carry it? And does the moon dough last if you keep it in a sealed container?

    Just curious 🙂 Thanks for the inspirations!

    • Kristin, thanks for the questions 🙂 For the suds, I just wing it and add until I like the consistency. I don’t like to give measurements for stuff like that because it depends on what kind of bubble bath you use.

      The powdered tempera paint can be found at craft stores but you will find a better selection online.

      And yes! Moon dough will last for at least 2 weeks in the fridge (even longer, usually. I have some in my fridge from MONTHS ago that we still play with).

      Hope this helps!!

  2. Just tried this and it is SO AWESOME! My 4 yo is freaking out over how much fun it is to play with, and she was squealing while watching it grow in the microwave. Success! I can’t wait to try the moon dough (although, where would one purchase said sand?). Thanks!

    • Ashlyn, thanks for posting your results!! I’m glad it worked well for y’all 🙂

      You can get sand at most big box hardware stores or even petstores in the aquarium section. Good luck!


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