Messy Play Experiences

My name is Sue Gascoyne and I am an author, Play Therapist, trainer and Early Years researcher. For many years messy play has interested me in my work with children, practitioners and as a Play Therapist. With this in mind the focus of my next book will be on Messy Play!

For the purposes of this survey I have defined messy play as “explorative sensory-rich play with wet, dry and in-between textured materials, with an emphasis on the process rather than an end product.”

If you would like to contribute your views, experiences and messy play ideas to my latest book please complete this questionnaire. Feel free to contact me at if you would like to share more detailed vignettes of messy play or to request a summary of the results. On behalf of children, (big and small) I'd like to thank you for your time in answering these questions. 

Sue Gascoyne
Creative Director, Play to Z

* 1. How comfortable are you/would you be about providing messy play in your setting or home?

  Setting Home
Very comfortable
Moderately uncomfortable
Very uncomfortable

* 2. What do you think are the benefits of messy play? Tick all that apply.

* 3. Please rank the top three barriers or disadvantages of providing messy play materials, where 1 is the main barrier/disadvantage to providing messy play.

* 4. Which, if any of these materials do you provide and/or allow for messy play'? Tick all that apply.

  Provide  Allow messy play
Sand that can be mixed with water and other materials
Water for playing and experimenting with
Malleables (e.g. clay, playdough, plasticine)
Paints that can be mixed together or used for tactile play (e.g, finger, powder, poster, face paints)
Dry materials (e.g. shredded paper, packaging peanuts and other dry materials
Natural materials indoors (e.g. soil, mud, leaves, sticks, sawdust)
Wet materials (e.g. shaving foam, gloop, washing-up liquid, soap)
Dry food materials (e.g. flour, cornflour, dried rice, lentils, couscous, pasta, spices, cereals, baking soda etc)
Wet food materials (eg food colouring, tinned tomatoes, rice pudding, yogurt, custard, baked beans, food flavourings etc)
Ready-made messy play products, (e.g. gellibaff/play, moon sand, slime, aqua beads, artificial snow)
Other, please describe

* 5. In your experience which children (gender and ages) are most likely to choose to use messy play in your setting or at home? (Please use N/A if not relevant.)

  Very likely Somewhat likely Unlikely Not applicable/Not known
0-3 year olds
4-6 year olds
7-10 year olds
11-14 year olds

* 6. In your experience how have children used messy play resources? Tick all that apply

* 7. How comfortable are you with touching and playing with messy play materials when invited by a child? (eg. immersing your hands in messy play mixtures such as sand, clay, shaving foam, playdough.)

  Setting Home
Very uncomfortable
Moderately uncomfortable
Very comfortable

* 8. Share a favourite messy play resource or activity.

* 9. Share an example of messy play including what, if anything, you and/or the child discovered or learned?

* 10. Tell me about you ...

  16-24 years 25-34 years 35-49 years 50 years plus