Some parents are put off by messy play and to be honest with you I fall into this category. The very thought of my little boy smearing paint across our table, squishing mud between his fingers and dribbling glue on his pants makes me run for a cloth. Since having him, however, I have been battling the urge to pull him out of puddles and avoid all art and craft activities because messy play is extremely beneficial for child development and in fact, it has been deemed to be one of the best ways for young children to learn. Here’s why we should let our little explores get messy!
Messy play encourages exploration and imagination- Messy play allows children to learn about their senses and to find out about the world around them. They discover how things feel, smell and taste. When they are left to explore they also make discoveries, which in turn develops their knowledge.
It supports the development of language -Most messy play activities are social experiences so children are learning to share, collaborate and negotiate. They are also learning new vocabulary when they discuss their observations and express their excitement.
It teaches children how to play independently and develops their concentration skills- In this day and age I feel children are losing the ability to amuse themselves. This type of open ended play offers children the opportunity to experiment and explore in many different ways without the need for adult intervention. These activities also require concentration, often for extended periods (my little boy recently played with Kinetic Sand for twenty-five minutes and he is seventeen months, I was amazed!).
It develops observational skills and enquiry based learning- When children engage in messy play they are using the skills of observation to find out what is happening. They are also making predictions (thinking about what may happen) and drawing conclusions (thinking about what happened and why).
Messy play can involve sand, water, chalk, paint, playdough and mud. Lets embrace the mess and allow our children to play in a sandpit, splash water in the bath and dig in the dirt. Oh and Christmas is around the corner, why not stick some paint and chalk on the Christmas list!