I’m a little bit of a clean freak; I’ll admit it. I hate messes, dirty hands, sticky tables. However, I’m also a mom of two little boys — and these kids love to get dirty. I want to encourage their creativity and let them have fun, but it takes a lot of willpower to allow them to make messes without me intervening.

Luckily, we’ve experimented with a couple of messy kid crafts lately that don’t make that much of a mess: only a few ingredients, easy clean up, and lots of fun. Here are two of our favorites:

Messy Kid Craft: DIY Slime

DIY slime and other no-mess messy kid crafts

This activity is awesome (especially with Halloween coming up!) because it’s super gooey and slimy…but it only has three ingredients and doesn’t get all over your kitchen. To make your slime, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 oz. white Elmer’s Glue
  • 1 teaspoon Borax
  • 1 cup plus 1/2 cup of water
  • food coloring (optional)

We followed this recipe from Our Best Bites, but basically you add the Borax to the cup of water and the glue to the 1/2 cup of water. If you’re adding food coloring, stir a few drops into the glue mixture. Then, combine both mixtures together and stir until it starts to come together. We used our hands to get it mixed in — it will take a few minutes for all the liquid to absorb. This stuff is crazy! It looks like a wet blob, but it’s actually dry (and slimy) to the touch and will stretch, rip and mix back together as many times as you want. My son loved it! The mixing bowl was the only thing we had to clean up since the slime sticks to itself and not to hands or tabletops.

Messy Kid Craft: Fizzing Rainbows

This craft kept my son busy for an hour the first time we tried it. Prep and clean-up couldn’t be easier! These are the supplies you’ll need:

  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • food coloring
  • eye dropper or medicine dropper

Spread some baking soda on a cookie sheet — use a cookie sheet with a rim, not one of the flat ones, so your creation doesn’t run off the edges. Fill a cup with vinegar and add a few drops of the food coloring of your choice. (My son wanted to try all the colors, so we did four different cups.) Fill your eye dropper with the colored vinegar, then squirt a few drops at a time onto the baking soda and watch what happens! The fizz thrilled my boys and led to a lot of fun conversation topics like chemical reactions and mixing colors.

Once he used up all the baking soda on the cookie sheet, it was easy to (carefully!) clean up. I carried the tray over to my sink, dumped it out, rinsed it off and added more for another round. As long as your little scientists manage to keep the vinegar and baking soda on the cookie sheet, clean up should be minimal — I like to lay newspaper out below the tray, just in case.

Try these two messy kid crafts with your little people — I hope they’ll love getting their hands dirty, and you’ll love the easy clean up!