I know… I know… you want to try fun things with your kids… but the mess makes you want to scream. These tools to contain the mess will help make art and sensory play less stressful for you!

Kids need boundaries obviously, and some rules when it comes to painting and sensory play… but we can also make it a little easier for ourselves with some simple tools to contain the mess a bit too.

RELATED: Want to have more fun being crafty with your toddler? Tries these 7 Ways to Enjoy Being Crafty with your Toddler.

Mess happens.

Kids love to explore art and sensory materials and it’s really important that they get those opportunities! Read more about the benefits of sensory play below.

Child development expert, Amanda at Not Just Cute explains the benefits of sensory play, saying, “Children are wired to receive and utilize sensory input from day one.  This is why children will dive in hands first, exploring a new substance.  The senses are their most familiar, most basic way to explore, process, and come to understand new information.”

Set yourself (and your kids) up for success by creating routines for each activity that you do and by using tools like craft trays, vinyl tablecloths, and kiddie pools to help curb the mess a bit.

7 Awesome Tools to Contain the Mess

Let’s explore these simple tools a bit so that you can understand why they are helpful for parents, especially those that want to avoid big messes.

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1. Big kiddie pools

Kiddie pools that have a plastic hard shell like this one or others you can find that are blow up are great for art activities, giant sensory activities, etc.

We purchased our big plastic wading pool at Target a few years ago. Start watching for these soon!

2. Cardboard boxes

We love to save cardboard boxes from our Amazon orders to create a cheap painting spot for our littlest ones. The bigger the better! Don’t have a cardboard box? Bathtubs work great too as a place to let kids play and create and then get cleaned.

RELATED: Love painting with kids? Here are 15 of our favorite ways to paint with kids.

3. Storage bins-

Storage bins are used daily at our house. My favorite size is the 32 QT Sterilite storage bin. They are great for holding a lot of fun sensory play materials. If you keep everything in the bin, clean up is much easier!

4. Craft trays!

We love our craft trays! They are used several times each day as we do arts & crafts, science, and even fine motor activities. They are great to contain the mess and also help give kids a clear defined work space.

5. Fitted sheet!

My mind was blown when I saw this idea a few years ago. Helps keep small sensory items inside the space even when you’re using bins for an easy clean up.

All you do is put the fitted sheet down and stick something in each corner to wrap around it to stretch it out and turn it into your own creative kid play yard. We used baskets but you can use chairs or anything else you have around. You could also use this one for easy clean up for Legos or blocks or small toys. The sky’s the limit!

6. Big vinyl tablecloths and paint drop cloths!

Vinyl tablecloths are pretty much the best thing that’s happened to me as a mom. They are easy to throw down onto the floor or the table so that kids can make messes and still help keep things tidy.

These are both great for covering tables and spaces. I have my favorite tablecloth linked in my Amazon shop here.

7. Baking pans

Cookie sheets and baking pans with a little edge are perfect for art and sensory play activities. They help give kids a barrier or workspace as they create and play! I love how colorful they are too.

Have more tricks for containing the mess? What tools are your favorite? Have you tried any of these tricks that I shared? See one you want to try? Tell us about them in the comments.