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About Messy Play

Messy Play Kits with Robin Imholte

Messy Play Kits were created by Hands on Parenting LLC as a way to extend the reach of their popular Messy Play classes. They are an easy way for children and parents to engage in sensory exploration and age-appropriate science activities at home.

Why Messy Play?

Children learn best when they actively engage with their environment and use all their senses. Young children are in a very concrete stage of development—they need to SEE and FEEL their world in order to understand it. By engaging in sensory play combined with skilled adult partners, they learn about a variety of textures, materials, and properties in the concrete manner they understand best.

Through Messy Play kits and activities, children will:

  • Engage with a variety of textures and materials
  • Learn about material properties and how they change (such as soft, sticky, stretchy, bubbly)
  • Develop cognitive skills (problem-solving, cause and effect)
  • Math skills (counting, shape identification and matching, timing)
  • Science concepts (physical properties, gravity, basic chemical reactions, predictions and observations)
  • Social and emotional skills (sharing materials, group problem-solving, decision-making)
  • Language abilities (learning new words for materials and properties)
  • Responsibility and self-control (having to participate in set-up and clean-up, following rules and limits)
  • Fine motor skills (pinching, poking, grasping) all help develop the muscles to hold a pencil and write properly
  • Creativity (using open-ended materials allows room for creativity and builds self-confidence)

Instructions are included in each Messy Play Kit. See the Tips page for ideas on how to support your child during Messy Play adventures.


A preschool teacher goes independent:

I’m Robin and I created Messy Play Kits, a company that combines my expertise in child development and sensory play with my love for all things colorful and messy (and washable!).

My background is in child development and psychology. I taught preschool for 2 years in a phenomenal program at UC Davis where I learned the importance of play-based learning and how to observe children at play. I was especially drawn to the sensory tub and science areas, so I began spending hours online researching new activities for my classroom and children I nannied for to keep our days interesting, engaging and educational.

The idea for Messy Play Kits came from my grandmother, who asked me for activity ideas to do with her toddler-aged great-grandson. Instead of sending her a list, I packaged up materials and hand-wrote instructions for a week of fun and unusual activities for them to enjoy together. She was so thrilled with the activities that she insisted that I pursue making products for other families as well.

And Messy Play Kits was born! Since then, we’ve expanded to offer 12 Messy Play Kits, monthly subscriptions, single activity kits, sensory bins, slime kits, and activities for a wide range of ages. Our products are in retail stores in 12 different states and you can find us at craft fairs and classes throughout the SF Bay Area.