11 Messy Play and Sensory Activities to Keep Kids Occupied at Your Party

Last Updated on October 24, 2022 by Project Party

What is sensory play? It is basically anything that allows children to use their senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing, and movement) to explore their environment. These types of messy play activities are great for parties because they are usually very hands-on, and engaging and are beneficial because they can calm children down, help with concentration and also promote problem-solving skills.

Nicky Nacky Noo messy play setup
Get a quote from Nicky Nacky Noo for your event today!

If you’re looking for some fun, sensory play and messy play activities to keep kids occupied at your next party, look no further! We’ve got a great list of ideas that will keep little ones entertained and engaged. From painting to playing with slime, there’s something for everyone! Keep reading for our top 11 picks:

1. Painting with Ice

This is a great activity for a hot summer day! Simply fill up some water balloons with paint and water, then freeze them overnight. In the morning, let the kids go crazy painting on the sidewalk or driveway! The ice will start to melt quickly in the heat, so they’ll have to work fast!

2. Playing with Slime

Slime is always a hit with kids! You can make your own slime using simple ingredients like glue, borax, and water. Or, you can buy it already made. Either way, kids will love playing with this messy substance!

There are endless ways to play with slime. You can add food colouring or glitter to change the look, or add in small toys for an extra sensory experience. Let the kids use their imaginations and have fun!

Messy play activities slime

3. Finger Painting

Finger painting is another messy activity that kids love! All you need is some paint and paper, and the kids can go to town.

For a fun twist, try using different colours of paint and see what happens when they mix together. Or, add in some edible paint for messy play activities that also offer a different sensory twist!

To step it up to another level, let them use their feet or other party of their bodies for a really engaging and fun experience!

Messy play activities finger painting

4. Sound Tubes

This sensory play activity is great for kids who are interested in science and music. All you need are some empty plastic bottles and different materials to fill them with.

Fill the bottles with rice, frozen peas, water, sand, or anything else you have around the house. Then, seal the tops tightly and let the kids shake, rattle, and roll! They’ll love listening to the different sounds the bottles make.

For a visual component, try adding food colouring to the water-filled bottles. The kids will be fascinated by the way the colours mix together.

5. Mud Play

Mud play is another great messy play activity for kids! If you have a sandbox, let them dig to their heart’s content. Or, make your own mud by mixing together dirt and water.

There are so many ways to play with mud! The kids can use their hands, feet, or even paintbrushes to create works of art. They can also add in small toys or nature items like leaves and rocks for extra fun.

6. Play Dough

Play dough is another classic messy activity that kids love. You can buy it ready-made, or make your own with this simple recipe:


  • ½ cup of salt
  • ¼ cup cream of tartar
  • ½ cup of water
  • food colouring (optional), and
  • ½ cup flour.


Mix together the salt, cream of tartar, and water in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add food colouring, if desired. Add the flour and stir until well combined.

The dough will be hot at first, so let it cool for a few minutes before letting the kids play. They can use cookie cutters, roll it into balls, or simply squish it between their fingers!

7. Shaving Cream

This is a messy but fun activity that kids love! Simply put some shaving cream on a table or in a container, and let the kids go to town. They can write their names, make shapes, or just squish it around.

For an extra sensory experience, add some food colouring or glitter. You can also put small toys or objects into the shaving cream for the kids to find.

8. Water Beads

Water beads are small, colourful beads that absorb water and grow in size. They’re fun to play with and make a great sensory experience for kids.

To use water beads, simply soak them in water for a few hours. Then, drain off the excess water and let the kids play! They can use their hands or small toys to scoop, pour, and squish the beads.

Messy play activities water beads

9. Sensory Bins

A sensory bin is a great way to provide a messy, yet contained, play experience for kids. All you need is a bin and some materials to fill it with.

Some common sensory bin materials include rice, beans, sand, water beads, and play dough. You can also add small toys or objects for the kids to find.

Sensory bins are a great way to keep kids occupied and engaged. They can also help promote calm and relaxation.

Messy play activities sensory tubs

10. Homemade Instruments

This activity is great for kids who love music. All you need are some empty containers and different materials to fill them with.

Fill the containers with rice, beans, water, sand, or anything else you have around the house. Then, seal the tops tightly and let the kids shake, rattle, and roll! They’ll love listening to the different sounds the instruments make.

Or, get your tin pans, saucepans and wooden spoons out and let your little drummers go wild!

11. Smelling Bottles

This activity is great for kids who love to explore with their sense of smell. All you need are some small bottles and different materials to fill them with.

Fill the bottles with strong-smelling items like essential oils, spices, or perfumes. Then, seal the tops tightly and let the kids sniff away! They’ll love trying to guess what’s in each bottle.

These are just a few ideas to get you started – the possibilities are endless! So get creative and have fun! Painting with edible paint, making homemade slime, playing in a shaving cream sensory bin, creating a messy obstacle course, and more! These messy play activities are sure to be a hit with kids of all ages. And the best part? They’re all relatively easy to set up and clean up. So what are you waiting for? Get planning your next messy play party today!