Yellow, green and pink sponges stacked.

Active Play

10 Fun Things To Do With Kitchen Sponges

May 31, 2017

Keeping little ones entertained and engaged all summer can feel like a challenge, especially when you’re trying to stick to a budget. The good news is that sometimes all you really need are a few basic household items and a bit of imagination. Take sponges, for example — you’ve probably got a few lurking under the kitchen sink for tackling dishes, but a boring kitchen sponge can easily be used for a creative art project, an indoor activity on a rainy day, or even a cool science experiment. Need some inspiration? Here are 10 ways to turn a pack of kitchen sponges into an afternoon of fun.

1. Give Them a Squeeze

Child reaches in in blue bucket.
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Help the littlest member of your family work on their motor skills with a simple water transfer activity. All you need is a sponge and two containers — one with water, and one without. Show your wee one how to soak up water with the sponge and then squeeze it out to fill up the empty container. It’s a perfect way to keep your toddler cool and entertained on a hot summer day.  

2. Sponge Paint a Masterpiece

Child painting with sponge-brushes made out of clothes pins.

Introduce your little artist to the world of sponge painting with a few different sponge shapes and some colourful paint. You can also make a sponge “brush” using a piece of sponge and a clothespin for a different painting effect. (Here’s a great recipe for homemade paint!)

3. Make Water Balls

Blue and yellow strips of sponge cut up and put together to resemble a ball.

If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest lately, you’ll recognize these colourful sponge balls. In addition to being oh-so easy to make, sponge balls are also quite versatile. They’re a fun pool toy for kids of all ages, and make a great substitute for water balloons. You can also use them for backyard games! Line up a few colourful plastic buckets and use sponge balls in place of beanbags for a tossing game that will help strengthen your child’s hand-eye coordination skills.

To make your balls, you’ll need four sponges (we used two different colours), some string, and a pair of scissors. Cut each sponge into four strips, lengthwise. Cut a length of string and lay flat, then build your tower of sponge strips over the centre of the string, alternating colours to make a checkerboard pattern. Tie the string tightly around the centre of the sponge pile and fluff to make a ball shape. Voila!

4. Build a Tower With Quiet Blocks

Child holding sponge blocks.

So your preschooler wants to build a block tower while the baby takes a nap? No problem! Swap your set of wooden blocks for some DIY sponge building bricks and everybody wins. (Take this one to the next level and make your own quiet Jenga set using sponges, too.)

5. Get Gluing

Child dips construction paper in glue-y sponge in container.

For little ones who insist on doing things by themselves, craft time can be extra messy — especially if there’s glue involved. Encourage independence and avoid a sticky situation with a simple hack that keeps mess to a minimum. Find an old plastic container that’s about the size of a kitchen sponge, and put the sponge inside. Pour glue over the sponge and snap on the lid, leaving your sponge to absorb the glue overnight. That’s it! Once your glue pad is ready, kids can dab bits of paper and other materials onto the sponge as needed, without worrying about spills or sticky fingers. (Now if only we could find a hack for keeping glitter contained…)

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6. Try Out Some Tangrams

Tanagram shaped as a fish accompanied by an image on an iPhone.

Put a new twist on the classic wooden tangram puzzle from your childhood and make a set for your little one using different coloured sponges. This puzzle is a great way to help kids work on problem-solving skills — and it’s a lot of fun! (Tip: You can find plenty of printable tangram shape cards on Pinterest.)

7. Sail Away

Sponge boat floats in plastic container.

Who’s ready for a boat race? Help your little one construct a cool custom sailboat that’s ideal for playing in the pool or tub. You’ll need a sponge, some duct tape, a piece of cardstock and a wooden kebab skewer. The sponge will form the base of your boat, while cardstock covered in duct tape makes the perfect waterproof sail. Connect the two using a kebab skewer or Popsicle stick and prepare to launch!

8. Play Sponge Tennis

Red balloon accompanied by two sponge paddles.

Don’t let a rainy day ruin your fun! Keep kids active indoors with a simple (and safe!) game of living room tennis. Constructing your set is easy — just use a sharp knife to cut a slot in a thick sponge, and insert a ruler (or paint stir stick) to make a “racquet” and substitute a balloon for the tennis ball. 

9. Bring the Outdoors In

Seeds placed on wet sponge.

Teach your budding botanist about the way things grow with a simple seed experiment. You’ll need a sponge, some grass seeds, a reusable plastic container, and a spray bottle (optional). Place a damp sponge on the lid of the plastic container and spread grass seeds on top. Mist with a bit of water, and then snap the container onto the lid to create a mini greenhouse. Leave your sponge in a sunny spot, like a window ledge. Check back daily to see what’s sprouting, and mist with water as needed. (Bonus: wee ones can work on those scissor skills and give the grass a trim once it’s long enough.)

10. Two Words: Car Wash

Young boy washes car.
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Keep it simple! Break open a pack of sponges and let kids loose in the driveway with a pail of soapy water to wash bikes, trikes, wagons and play cars. Who knows — they may even wash your car, too.


Article Author Alicia McAuley
Alicia McAuley

Read more from Alicia here.

Alicia McAuley is a freelance writer, editor and all-around web nerd who never met a pop culture reference she didn't like. The former editor of a parenting website, these days she shares a home office in the suburbs with her husband, two adorable boys, and two lazy cats. You can find her cracking jokes on Twitter @aliciamcauley and pinning projects for her to-do list on Pinterest.

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