The Joys and Benefits of Messy Play

Children just love to be messy, whether that’s jumping in muddy puddles or finger painting – any excuse for a child to make messy play becomes a fun activity for them.

But did you know…… As well as being enjoyable, messy play is a great way of improving all-round development of your child and with young brains being more susceptible, messy play can encourage a more creative and imaginative way of thinking that’s of great benefit for problem-solving and life skills..

 What is Messy Play

Messy play is a way of encouraging children to learn about raw materials such as mud, sand, water and paint in an unrestricted way. Children can play and explore with these without being constrained by the ‘right’ way of using them, in turn, this helps them to develop sensory experiences of how things, taste, smell and feel.

Messy play benefits

Curiosity – One of the great things about childhood is the sense of freedom you have, and messy play is a great example. Experimentation is something to be encouraged through all stages of our lives.

Fine motor skills – Fine motor skills are the movements that use small muscles in the fingers, hands and forearms but they aren’t fully developed until around 8 years old. Actions such as grabbing and gripping will strengthen the muscles and improve those skills.

Communication – As your child starts to explore encourage them to describe what they are doing such as how things feel; this will improve their confidence and how they communicate their thoughts and feelings to others.

Messy play ideas at home

In the bath – Bath time is one of the best opportunities to encourage messy play. Simply add some sponges, plastic bottles and fun toys to give your child an opportunity to explore and splash around.

At tea-time – Meal times don’t always have to be full of perfect manners and elbows off the table! Young children especially will be intrigued by new foods and their way of learning about them is by exploring with all of their senses. A good way of encouraging this is to prepare food with them.

Messy Play ideas at Nursery School

Painting – Messy play is about being free to play with things in any way you want, many nurseries do this by ditching the paintbrushes and setting up painting activities that encourage the use of hands and other objects.

Outside Activities – Outdoor play can be done is all weather conditions, in fact, wetter weather will create a lot more things to explore. Get their wellies and waterproofs on and head outdoors for an afternoon of splashing in puddles and sifting through mud – this is also a great way of teaching them about the environment, seasons, and wildlife.

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