Let’s cool down with some ICE play!!!

One of the first activities I did when I joined the play team @monthly_play on Instagram was called “Melting into Spring!” It involved freezing flower petals in ice using silicone cupcake moulds then using coloured water and salt to try and melt them (see under “Nature” category to check this out in full.)

Since then my son has loved ice play and he will often ask me to make some ice for him to melt. We have recently introduced it to his little sister as well who also seems to be a fan! I decided to look back through our Instagram grid and share with you all the different ways we have played with ice to hopefully inspire you to have a go and cool down in all this hot weather!!

One of the things we regularly do is freeze things within ice and then “rescue” the items (often with members of the Paw Patrol or PJ Masks lending a hand!) We have frozen; herbs, flowers, Pom-poms, toys, numbers and sequins to name but a few! I have also experimented with making different coloured ice by adding food colouring, which is a simple but really effective twist.

My son loves trying to get the things out of the ice and we have experimented with many different ways of doing this such as; cold water, hot water, coloured water, salt, sunshine, a hammer or a combination of them all! We have also frozen things in a variety of shapes to fit a theme of play such as; hands or Mickey Mouse and in different sizes so we can experiment with which will melt the fastest.

One recent activity I did was based on ‘Scientist Role Play.’ For this I froze a mixture of; baking powder, water and biodegradable glitter to make funny looking ‘germs.’ My son then had to mix some medicine and drop it onto them to make them go away. One of the ingredients I gave was vinegar so when this came into contact with the baking powder the ice cubes would fizz! Having played a lot with ice over the years this twist really grabbed my sons attention! (why not check out our Instagram grid for more information and videos!)

Another great thing about ice play is it is easy to set up, cheap and you can play it in many different settings! For example I set up many activities on our tuff tray which can be inside or outside depending on the weather. However, you could quite easily use a sink, a water tray, a washing up bowl, a plastic tray, a paddling pool etc etc As long as it’s something you don’t mind getting wet then it’s fine. Having a contained area is best though as many times Ice play turns into potion mixing (another one of my son’s favourite things!) so having some containers and utensils on hand is a handy tip to prolong the play. Another thing I’ve learned along the way is to always have back up ice cubes as often my son will have had such fun melting ice he’ll want to do it again instantly!

As my son approaches school age I’ve also tried to use his favourite types of play to include letters and numbers so it’s kind of secret learning through play! One way I have tackled this recently was to set up a ‘Wizard School’ based on his recent love of Harry Potter. This included magical ice cubes as one of the ingredients required to make his potions! He had to help read the ingredients (made up of pictures, colours, numbers and words) mix the potions and then say the correct magic words (check it out more on Instagram!)

I will leave you with our latest ice play which was my little girls first time exploring ice. It was a simple set up but a real hit with all of us. We went round the garden picking herbs and a few flowers, whilst doing this we learnt their names, what they smelt like and how they can be used in food! My son then asked to freeze some. We did this in small and large ice cubes so we could see which would melt the fastest. When I took them out of the freezer they looked really beautiful so I had fun taking some arty photos before letting the kids loose on them outside in our water tray! My little girl squeeled with delight as she picked up the ice and found it cold and slippy! She even had a little taste (another great thing about ice play is you can make it taste safe!) I then watched as my son helped show her how the ice melts, it was a lovely activity for all of us on a hot afternoon! Why don’t you have ago!

Next on our Ice play wish list is frozen water beads & ice painting so keep an eye out for those! Why not follow us on Instagram (@megaawesomemessyart), Facebook (Mega Awesome Messy Art) and (Twitter @megaawesomeMA) so you don’t miss out in any of our messy escapades! 😊

A Little Update!

I haven’t written on the website for a while; kids, work and life kind of got in the way and it got put on the end of my ever growing list of things to do! However, with lockdown slowing down the world (but not our kids) I thought now would be a good opportunity for me to “re-launch” the website blog so I can share all of the activities and ideas I have stored up from continuing to co-host monthly play prompts with the @monthly_play team on Instagram.

I am also re-jigging my Instagram page @megaawesomemessyart so the ‘highlights’ are sorted into categories, making it easier to quickly find inspiration on different themed/types of play such as; Nature, Dinosaurs, Playdough etc.

The main aim of starting this blog was to offer ideas for people wanting to do messy art/play at home, it makes me so happy when people send/tag me in activities they have tried out. I have therefore also made a category to share other people’s take on our ideas called “Inspiring Posts.” I would love you all to tag us (@megaawesomemessyart) or use our hashtag (#makeamesswithmama) if you post on Instagram or you can share via Facebook or email megaawesomemessyart@mail.com.

So a little update about us; we are currently in lockdown in the UK at my parents’ house as our family was in the middle of a house move! Prior to having my daughter I had taken a career break and am now working part time as support staff in a high school. I am therefore very lucky to be able to work from home, care for my children and shield my parents. I have many friends still on the frontline who I worry for and admire, as I do all of those key workers. Thank you all so very much!

My Introduction into the World of Instagram Play Prompts!

I started Mega Awesome Messy Art (MAMA) to document our journey with messy art and to offer tips/advice for others who wanted to create messy memories at home. At the time I had no idea there was a huge community out there of like minded people all wanting to do the same thing!

I was introduced to the world of Play Prompts and Challenges on Instagram when I saw the hashtag #the12weeksofwinter. The aim was to create activities based on a theme that the account put out so I thought I’d have ago for “sunshine”. I created a little montage of us in each season with our shadows and to my surprise our idea was featured and I was then hooked! I found that having a theme allowed me to create activities I would otherwise not have thought of and my son also enjoyed knowing what ‘week’ it was so he could then tell me his ideas too! We picked from different accounts and I tried to tailor activities to what my son was into at that particular moment (mainly dinosaurs, Paw Patrol, vehicles and getting messy!)

After following play prompts I then took the next step and joined a fantastic team who put out play/activity ideas each month. When I joined it was #march_play and now we’re on #august_play which is based on ART IN AUGUST (right up our street!!!) This group changes slightly each month and includes people from all over the world! We bounce ideas off each other and create themes and prompts that people can pick and choose to have a go at. It has given me a fantastic drive to try new things, for example; before joining this group I’d never heard of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) then for #july_play we chose this as a theme for the month and it was fantastic. My son loved doing experiments and learning new concepts and so did I! We’ve also learnt about spin art, coloured rice, magic milk experiments, schemas, clouds in a jar and big outdoor art to name but a few! The group is also another support network for this fantastic but difficult journey that is parenthood!

Whilst participating in play prompts/challenges the issue that Instagram shows a ‘false account of play’ as the pictures are often too ‘perfect’ or ‘posed’ has come up quite a bit. I am hoping our account shows this isn’t always true, as whilst I love setting up beautiful trays and I do take ‘arty’ style photos of the process my main aim is focusing on what my children enjoy and things do not stay ‘perfect’ for long! I also limit myself to taking photos towards the beginning of and end of an activity so the play is not interrupted and my children can have my full attention. Often the direction I thought the play will go is completely different to the way it ends up, which I think is fantastic.  I try to accommodate my son’s wishes as far as possible as often they end up better than mine!

As well as my children having the freedom to be creative I really enjoying being able to express myself through art too by; setting up the play trays, taking photos and making things from their messy art creations such as collages, cards and gifts. I have also started drawing and painting again myself which I find allows me to relax and have some down time (not very much with two kids but every little bit helps!)

So in summary; I am thoroughly enjoying being immersed  in the fantastic community of play and thank all of those who have welcomed us with open arms. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is not to feel pressured to do ALL of the prompts if you feel they will not suit your child, just choose or tailor those that grab your imagination. After all, there is no point in doing an activity if your child doesn’t want to do it, because the whole point is to HAVE FUN!!!

Here is a ‘montage’ of all the things we’ve been getting up to over the last 5 months, I will be putting out some more focused blogs about groups of similar activities soon, so keep an eye out and please follow us on Instagram if you’re not already, maybe you will want to join in and play along too!!!


Play prompt pictures for each month courtesy of @playtime_with_dougie, all other images are from @megaawesomemessyart.

First blog post

Launched in 2017 Mega Awesome Messy Art (MAMA) is a site for crafty, enthusiastic parents and their children to find fun art based activities to try in the comfort of their own home and to create memories which will last a lifetime!

So if you like the idea of quick simple art activities to do (and don’t mind getting a little messy along the way) this is the place for you!