Letting children get messy while they’re playing gives them endless ways to develop and learn. Taking part in messy activities helps children use their senses to explore the world around them. It also can help improve their physical and social skills, and encourages them to think creatively and problem solve. Not only that – it’s fun!
Children are naturally curious and love finding out more
Messy play gives them the freedom to try things out and experiment. And because they’re also playing, they’re developing their thinking skills in a stress-free and relaxed way.
When children are actively involved in play, it’s a lot easier for them to respond to what they see, hear, smell, touch and feel. This kind of sensory development isn’t always possible in formal learning, and it’s one of the great benefits of messy play.
… it helps them think differently
Arts and crafts give babies and children the opportunity to stretch their imagination and use different materials in new and exciting ways to express their thoughts and feelings.
Creative play gets children approaching tasks differently, and gives them a chance to set their own challenges and solve problems. By using tools and objects to draw and paint with, they’re also improving the motor skills that are critical for learning to write. Children quickly become absorbed in what they’re doing, so creative activities have added value in terms of building attention skills, which are so important to learning.
… and it’s so easy to get started!
The best way to help your child get the most out of messy play is to join in yourself, and support their learning by asking open-ended questions and listen to their answers.
Top tips for messy play
- Sponges, fingers, hands and feet are as good as brushes for painting with.
- Try magic painting… draw on white paper with a white candle, then lightly paint all over the paper and watch the image magically appear.
- Kids enjoy cutting out and sticking down, and collage making is always popular as the possibilities are endless.
- Instead of crayons, pencils and paper – try twigs or lolly sticks to make marks on sand or other materials.
- Play-Doh is great for engaging children in creative play – try using it with and without cutters and moulds, or adding extra ‘ingredients’ like glitter, shredded paper.
You could also try getting messy with jelly:
This variation of jelly play is more suited to children over the age of two because the bugs may be too small for younger children, however it can be easily adapted to suit children of all ages.
You will need: Bowl, Jelly, Plastic spiders and other bugs
Make the jelly according to the packet instructions, involving older children in this process. Talk the children through the process as they help and let them watch the jelly cubes melt into the warm water. The children can then put plastic spiders and other bugs into the jelly before placing it in the fridge to set.
Once set put the jelly onto the table or into a messy play tray for the children to play with and explore using a range of senses.