Messy play is lots of fun and a great opportunity for little ones to develop some important skills. Many parents can be hesitant when they first think about messy play but they don’t need to be!
Kids need to understand the world through their senses. Messy play provides children with a wonderful sensory experience that inspires their curiosity.
It is also great for babies – they are born ready to explore the world around them. Touching, looking, listening, moving and exploring with their mouth are how babies learn. Development of these senses is the foundation for all other learning in life.
Engaging in young children’s senses during play can help them to focus, understand and remember more. Children’s sensory systems are strongly linked to memory and learning (think about what memories are triggered when you smell things like freshly cut grass or sunscreen!).
Play through experimenting and exploring is critical for development. Playing is a child’s JOB!
Messy play can create great discussions with your kids! Is it squishy? Smooth? Soft? Rough? Cold? Children also tend to talk more when playing and it gives them the chance to practice their vocabulary and use language.
Messy play is fantastic with helping children develop their early motor skills. Squeezing, scooping, making marks and pouring are all ways of learning to refine their fine motor skills as it uses the muscles in their fingers, wrists, arms and shoulders.
Introducing children to a variety of messy play activities builds up their strength in their different muscle groups and helps to develop muscle control. Even something as simple as stomping and jumping in puddles will help to strengthen their leg muscles.
Certain messy play activities improves hand-eye coordination, things like cutting shapes out of playdough, pouring rice from one container to the other etc. are all great for developing this.
Creating an environment for children where there is no right or wrong builds self-esteem and positive experiences. When in a group setting, this type of play gives little ones the opportunities to share their feelings and thoughts and make new friends – all which support their emotional development.
Using hands-on play, children get a feel for experimentation by seeing for themselves how things work. They learn valuable science skills like cause and effect and problem-solving – which is all a basis for STEM learning. They can also learn basic math skills like sorting, matching and more.
Little things….There is no right or wrong way to engage in messy play. Let the kid’s creativity and imagination take over and see what fun things they create!
Need some inspiration? Have a look at some of our favourite messy play ideas here.