Children love getting messy. Baby girl loves nothing more than jumping into muddy puddles. Or playing with her milk and Coco Pops. She loves to get her hands dirty. I love the benefits of messy play for children that it can bring to them. Messy play is also beneficial for babies as well, it can help with their cognitive development.
Together with Infinite Playgrounds, designers of canopies for schools and advocates of sensory play, let’s take a closer look at messy play and how it can be implemented in schools and nurseries.
What is messy play?
Messy play is a sensory experience that allows children to explore objects and experiences they are not always exposed to. In fact messy play is playtime with anything that gets your mess. Such as sand, water, mud, chalk, paint or playdoh. You can find local messy play groups and messy play classes in your area that are set up with this focus. I enjoy messy play with babies and toddlers so would love to see a messy play franchise in my area.
There are many messy play resources around, you just have to think a little. With it being unstructured play, children can use their own imaginations and explore new materials with no end goal, such as a card they have made, or a picture they have drawn.
Did you know that messy play can help with physical development? Messy play in early childhood helps to let children create shapes with the materials they are using and if they are like my daughter they will push things around with their feet!
What are the benefits of messy play?
Messy play encourages interaction with other children, if they are playing with others. It’s great for children with special needs or disabilities because you don’t need to read or speak to take part.
It encourages children to use their fingers as writing tools in materials such as sand. This way it builds up finger and arm muscles ready for picking up and using a pen. Toddlers are quicker to learn about solid objects due to their unchanging size and shape. Learning about soft materials, comparing textures and understanding the differences.
Playing in this way let’s children explore their imagination and practice concentration. They make up their own games and focus on moving their objects around, They also learn about spatial awareness and how their bodies work. Practicing fine motor skills and developing hand eye coordination are great benefits of messy play.
How can messy play be implemented in schools?
Messy play is started off at home, or at messy play groups. It can be introduced into schools in the following ways to help children learn and discover in a new environment with other children.
Here are ways to introduce messy play into the school curriculum:
- Installing a sand pit indoors.
- Adapting lesson plans. For younger children, take counting lessons outdoors or let them practise measuring water with cups and jugs.
- Introducing a rota for lunch and break time, where children can engage in messy play with access to the sand pit or water features.
- Encouraging parents to bring spare clothes or provide overalls for children so they are able to get messy.
- Children don’t have to be sat in the materials to reap the benefits of messy play — finger painting and playing with water is classed as messy too.
- Asking questions to children to spark their interest. ‘I wonder what will happen if we pour this over here?’, for example, can keep children engaged and gives them an opportunity to answer the question in their own way.
I hope these benefits of messy play have helped you to decide the learning journey for your child.
Are you a fan of messy play?
Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you have found this post useful.
You can check out my other parenting posts here.