Most kids, especially the young, absolutely love messy play. Whether face-painting, hand printing, playing creatively with food or making masterpieces with clay, preschoolers are usually in their element when they’re making a mess with media of one form or another. Look at a photo of any such activity involving a child and you’re likely to see the pure joy and sense of wonder right there on their faces. They’re likely to be grinning from ear to ear and perhaps even raising their messy hands proudly towards the camera!
Not only is messy play extraordinarily good fun for very young children, but it also has a surprisingly number of long-term benefits for them. We’ll explore some of those in this article. Hopefully, it may help some of the more sceptical parents to understand why it is such an essential element of early years education, despite the occasional splatter of paint going astray.
The benefits of messy play
The fun aspect of messy play should firstly be considered as important in itself. After all, if children cannot have fun with messy play when they’re youngsters, when can they? Messy play is a great opportunity to get really ‘hands-on’ and totally creative. Learning through this type of play, when having real fun, is the most natural of ways to learn. Messy play is a perfect way for children to discover and to express themselves.
Developing the senses
Messy play is a feast for the senses and it gives children the opportunity to really explore these. They can explore textures, touch, smell, liquids, solids, hardness, softness, colour and even taste when appropriate. Children up to the age of two are particularly responsive to messy and sensory play. It will teach them about the world around them, and about their own senses, in so many different ways.
Stimulating the imagination, boosting creativity & quietly educating
As they get older, they can build on these new sensory ‘building blocks’ and develop them further, in ever-more creative ways. They will have picked up new skills and knowledge around things like combining colour pigments, mark-making, use of textures, the properties of materials and building/affixing know-how through messy play. Allowing them to explore what’s possible with objects, colour, texture, size, shape and form will stimulate their imagination and make them naturally more creative.
What’s interesting is that children may start off simply enjoying being messy but they’ll very soon progress to making some sort of creative plan in their minds, perhaps building a fantasy world, game or situation of some kind with … [… READ MORE …]