Travel Messy Play Kit Guide
Ready to dig into your Travel Messy Play Kit? On this page you'll find detailed step-by-step instructions, ideas to extend the learning, and some links to other resources. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about your kit. Now go get messy!
Felt Story Monster
Eye Spy Shaker Bottle
Felt Memory Game
Alphabet Travel Journal
Felt Box Play
More Messy Play Kits
Felt Story Monster:
- Place the piece of green felt on your work surface, so that it’s oriented the long ways with the holes on the side towards you. The section closest to you should have a slit that runs from side to side. This will be your monster’s “mouth.”
- Fold the bottom third of the felt piece up over the middle third so that the holes line up on each side. Use the string to tie each side together to create a sort of envelope: tie a knot on the bottom left hole, thread the string up through the 2 holes above it, and tie another knot at the top left hole. Repeat on the right side.
- Now make the top third into a flap that fits inside the slit in the bottom piece: fold the top flap over and note where the slit lines up. Use scissors to cut the top flap into a triangular shape, with the point of the triangle fitting inside the slit. You should have an envelope that you can put things inside.
- Now decorate your monster! Use the included felt scraps and glue to add a mouth near the slit, and maybe an eyeball (or 3!) at the top. Should your monster have eyelashes? Arms that stick off the side? Be as creative and silly as you want!
- When your monster is dry, place the story word cards inside.
- Pull out 3 words at random and make up a story using those words! How long can your story be? Can you make up another story using the same words?
- You can always add your own story words to the monster as well!
- Another idea to try: tell a story in rounds, with each person adding a sentence to build on the story. You have to work together to tell a story that makes sense!
- Tell a story using the words “fortunately” and “unfortunately” at the beginning of every other sentence. This is a fun way to add depth and conflict to your story.
What are they learning?
- Fine motor control: cutting and tying knots are great for fine motor control and hand-eye coordination!
- Creativity: in both creating the monster and telling the stories, there is room for a lot of creative thinking.
- Language: your child might learn new words through this activity, and it’s a great way for you to introduce new vocabulary to them as you create stories together.
Eye Spy Shaker Bottle:
- Empty the rice into a large bowl or bag. Use scissors to cut the tip off of the pipette of liquid watercolor and squeeze the color into the rice. Mix thoroughly until all the liquid is absorbed. The rice won’t be uniform in color: some will be more colorful than other grains. Let the rice dry completely.
- When the rice is dry, pour half of it back into the bottle (a funnel makes this easier). Add in the “eye spy pieces” and shake to Listen to how loud the shaker bottle is. The more empty space in the bottle, the louder the rice shaking will be, and the easier it is to see the “eye spy pieces.”. Continue to add more rice until you achieve a good balance between noise level and ease of seeing the pieces.
- When you’re done, you can use super glue (not included) to seal the bottle shut for extra safety!
- Spin the bottle around and see what you can find. Can you find the alphabet letters in your name? Can you find two shapes that match? Can you spy animals you might see at the zoo, or in an aquarium, or things you can eat?
- Play “Eye Spy” with a friend: find something in the bottle and give them hints as to what they’re looking for. “I see something small, that lives in the ocean, and has claws that pinch.” (A crab!)
- Can you find similar things on your travels to things in the bottle? Similar creatures, or things in the real world that start with a letter you can find in the bottle?
What are they learning?
- Hand eye coordination: it takes a bit of coordination to be able to shake the bottle around in a way that helps you find things hidden inside. The pom poms and rice coloring help hide the items a bit and make it even trickier!
- Language: finding things that start with the same letter is a great way to build foundational language skills!
- Math: grouping and sorting items by categories are important basic math skills!
Felt Memory Game:
- Set the black squares out on your work surface.
- Use the glue to attach one colorful shape to each black piece. You should have matching sets of each shape.
- Let the shapes dry.
- You can use the Messy Play box to play. Open the box and place one of the cream pieces of felt on the inside of the lid. Place the black felt pieces inside the box. (The cream piece just makes the black pieces stay in place better- it’s not necessary if you don’t want to use it.)
- Mix up the black pieces and place them on top of the cream piece with the shape hidden. You can place them in any arrangement, but a 4x4 square is a good way to start. (For younger kids, choose just 2-4 shapes to start with to make it more achievable.)
- Pick up any 2 black pieces and flip them over. If the shapes match, you made a set! Remove them from the game and place them back in the box. If the shapes don’t match, flip the pieces back over and choose new ones to reveal.
- Repeat until you’ve matched all the shapes! It can be tricky to remember where all the shapes are hidden!
What are they learning?
- Math: this is a great way to talk about shapes! What shapes are your child familiar with? Are any of these shapes new to them? If you were to add other shapes to this game, what would they be?
- Cognition and memory: it’s the name of the game! You have to remember where each shape is hidden in order to find it’s match! The more pieces you have, the harder this is.
Alphabet Travel Journal:
Note: This can be prepared in advance, or as part of the trip!
- Place one alphabet sticker on each page of the journal. Place it at the top so there’s room to draw or write below it.
- There are a few ways to do this activity, and you can choose! You can even do different things for each letter!
- For each letter:
- Find something outside of your window to draw.
- Find something inside of your vehicle/space to draw.
- Think of something you’ll see at your destination.
- Think of something you left at home.
- If drawing is too tricky, trying writing the names of the items you’re thinking of.
- Other fun ideas:
- Find each letter on a road sign outside of your window and check off each page as you find it!
- Make up a story using characters and places that use up as many letters as you can! No two names can have the same letters!
- Draw whatever you want on the remaining pages.
What are they learning?
- Letter and sound practice: the more you talk about letters and the sounds they make, the more familiar your child will be with them! Talk about the letters you see on signs, the sounds they make, the letters in their name, and so on.
- Fine motor control: drawing takes a lot of fine motor control and hand-eye coordination. It also takes patience and creativity, especially when traveling when bumps can throw off any artist’s plans! Help your child work through these frustrations if they arise, letting them know that it takes practice and time to make things appear on paper the way they do in their heads! And bumpy lines can make the funniest squiggles!
Felt Box Play:
- None is needed for this activity! But if you really want, you can glue one of the cream felt pieces inside the bottom of the box and to the inside of the box lid to help the other felt pieces stay in place during play. Let this dry completely before use.
- This activity is basically free play, ad includes dinosaur and a car. You can always pack a few other small favorite toys to add to the play too.
- The felt box play pieces include the following: a dark gray road, a light gray mountain, a blue pond, a green tree, a yellow sun, a white cloud, and a white snow cap for the mountain. Of course, these pieces can be anything you want them to be!
- The cream felt pieces are the background, used to help the other felt pieces stay in place as you play.
- Set up a scene using the felt pieces. Maybe the sun goes up on the box lid with the cloud next to it, and the road at the bottom with the pond and tree nearby.
- Use the dinosaur and car to play! Have the car drive around, the dinosaur stomp around and roar, and so on! If you brought your own toys, add them in too!
What are they learning?
- Open-ended play: this is very child-led and open-ended. The felt pieces are there to inspire and guide the play, but there are really no limits or rules. Your child can be as free and creative as they want! They may act out the same scene over and over, or they may tell a different story each time they play. You may even see them re-enacting scenes from real life (like voices coming from the toy car saying “Are we there yet?” And “I’m hungry!” As if the characters are on their own road trip!). This helps build their creativity, independence, imagination, social awareness, and more. It can also be very relaxing and freeing, to be able to play without adults guiding and limiting their play.
More Travel Play!
There are so many ways to keep traveling fun! Here are some of my favorites.
- Check out Quiet Book Queen's felt activity books and felt story boards! She was a partner in developing this Kit, and her own activities are amazing! Her felt quiet books are so fun to make as part of a swap, on your own, or to buy pre-made!
- Bring a small thing of bubbles with you! This is especially helpful with young babies and toddlers. They love looking at bubbles, so when you need a quick attention-grabber, blow some bubbles!
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