Blog home
The Blog

Fresh Ideas and Inspiration for education

Messy Play: Potions and Concoctions

With a whole host of films and TV shows about wizards, scientists, potions and spells, creating potions in your setting can unlock lots of learning potential.  Harry Potter, the Hobbit, Narnia and Ben 10 have all been hugely popular and caught children’s imaginations over the last few years.

Posted on Thursday 24th October 2013

Potions and Concoctions corner

Aside from the fun of role play, using potions in messy play is a fantastic springboard to using scientific and mathematical language in your setting.

Mix, add, stir, bubble, fizz – there are lots of words to explore and introduce children to.

It’s also a really fun way to introduce mark making. Who wants to write a spell down? What will it do? When would you use it?

We love using the medium of sensory play to actually ‘make’ these potions, adding a lovely (or slimy!) sensory experience as children explore materials, mixing, imagining and making.

We’ve got a couple of recipes that we’d like to share with you to help bring your wizard’s cave or scientist’s lab to life. Why not include some large bottles to write potions on or make a Wizard’s Cave sign that has some helpful vocabulary on which is great to have around your setting.

Petal Perfume

Making Rose Petal Perfume is a lovely childhood memory, and we’d like to share how to make it with you. This is a super science activity with some great opportunities for language development. It’s really satisfying too, so get your sieves and mashers at the ready!


1. Ask children to gather petals – you might want to have some pre-picked flowers ready and ‘dethorn’ the stems for safety. Ask children to describe the petals – what do they feel like, what colours are they?

2. Placing the petals in a bowl, add just enough water to cover them. Mash the petals a lot, until the water changes colour. Talk about the changes to the water and ask children what they can smell. Stir, swirl, mix and mash.



4. Sieve the mixture to remove the mashed petals – you can add more petals and repeat step three to get a deeper aroma, or use a funnel to decant your perfume as it is.

   FCORN_5   FCORN_6

5. Ask children to describe their perfume (it may smell a lot nicer to them than it does to you!) – you can extend the activity by making labels and then ‘selling’ the perfume in your shop corner.

What potion will you mix in these appealing, plastic potion bottles? Why not add your perfume into them and add labels?

Potion Bottles

Monstrous Slime

FCORN_7It’s easy to make your own slime with cornflour. Simply mix two parts cornflour to one part water. Add the water slowly until you get the  desired consistency. Ask children to experiment with how much water they add and describe how it feels. We like to add a little (and we mean a little – a couple of drops will do) of green food colouring.

Ask children to mix it slowly (really easy) then fast (almost impossible) – a great springboard to talking about materials and their properties.

If you have some tips to share, messy play recipes or ideas, then we’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to read our tips for messy play with magic snow.