a child building with water blocks

Mess Free Activities for Toddlers

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I am not the greatest at dealing with messy play. But I want my kids to learn. Check out this list of mess free activities for toddlers! Add them to your daycare activities too!

toddlers coloring mess free with crayons

Daycare activities for toddlers

Toddlers-they are messy! They are full of energy and curiosity. I always thought it was so unfair that they have so much energy, and we are supposed to keep track of them but we don’t. Ha! But they are learning and growing and an epic pace, so they gotta move!

They are fun, but they can make such a mess. I find it overwhelming sometimes being outnumbered 7 to 1 with little hands. So I don’t love messy play as much as I should. When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to make a mess, and it’s ingrained in me. So I struggle with what I know and what I know is right. Anyone out there feel me?

There is no mess-free life with young kids or any kids, am I right? But we can find mess-free activities to intermingle with the messy ones and still help kids learn and explore. (And maybe we need to hire a housekeeper to help us keep up?)

My motto has always been you can keep kids busy or they will keep you busy. And I like to be calmly leading the flow rather than chasing the disasters in panic mode. So I chose to keep them busy. I like a lot of free play and child-directed activities, but I like to structure the day with a good schedule and a few well-planned strategic activities to balance it out. There’s where the mess-free part comes in.

kids learning shapes with shape bean bags, playing a game where they lift their shapes into the air.

This shape bean bag game is great for teaching colors and shapes and you won’t have a big mess to clean up afterward! And the kids love it!

These candy cane math and science activities are great fun full of learning without a big sticky mess to clean up. Just let the kids take the candy canes home, and it’s done!

There are some great low mess or no mess activities in this article about rainy day fun indoors.

You can whip this Bruce and Nemo ball catcher up for the kids and they can play with it as long as they want with no mess for you to clean up!

bruce milk carton catcher, nemo fish and bottle of glue

Music and movement activities for toddlers

We LOVE music and movement. You can give the kids a few instruments, or nothing at all, and turn up some jams for some mess-free music time. You can also sit quietly in a group and do fingerplays that are awesome for kids learning and development. It doesn’t even have to be rowdy to teach.

Whether you have instruments or not, you can make some with this homemade band idea. And kids will love beating to the music!

Dramatic play is also a low-mess activity. Besides cleaning up the props, and the kids can do that. But they learn so much by imitation, and dramatic play is where it’s at for imitating real life!

a toddler and a daycare provider playing with an abacus

Garden activities for toddlers

I love doing things outside. If I’m going to give the kids a messy activity, I sure want to do it outside. So we have these garden activities for kids and garden activities for toddlers that may help you out too! And these nature activities and bug facts are lots of fun in the garden too!

And don’t forget about these super fun garden games they can play.

This familiar scene activity is for preschoolers to practice matching small pictures that may be placed on milk caps for kids to hold on to.

Check out this post with monster squishy sensory bags! Kids can squish monster eyeballs around on monster faces, but the mess stays in the bag!

Grab this free printable farm lacing card pattern and laminate them for the kids. They will love them!

Teach color matching with this paper plate color match activity you can make in minutes.

This counting with cars activity will keep those little hands busy.

This painting activity with fall colors will be fun to squish without any mess to clean up! Kids still get the sensory stimulation too.

These mess-free sensory bags are a game changer. So much sensory stimulation, but no goo on the table!

This pom play tray is a fun way to increase fine motor control too.

This animal rescue play with tape is a great way to give kids resistance for their hands while having imaginative play on their own. Just a few pieces of tape is all that’s needed plus some plastic animals.

And there is even mess-free paint! Can you believe it? I love this stuff. Check out how to make mess-free initials with paint here.

children kicking a ball outside

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