At Play to Learn we love messy play and it is always a favourite amongst our tamariki, especially in our under-2s room. We also know that parents are sometimes keen to avoid messy play – who wants to be cleaning stuff off the carpet. So it is great that we can give children the chance to make a bit of mess and it lets us explore different things.
Sometimes it is as simple as mixing water and sand outdoors or it might involve play dough. Sometimes the team will make a special substance like slime or gloop, or just something that has a great texture. Children can use their hands to explore or we can add tools like spoons, bowls or jugs. We do have to remind children sometimes not to eat it until they realise it doesn’t taste great!
Messy play has many benefits for children of any age
Messy play is so much more than just a mess. Benefits include:
Relaxation – messy play can be relaxing and soothing. Even adults will feel relaxed when rolling some play dough through their hands or playing with slime!
Motor skills – playing with different textures and really getting hands-on can help children develop fine motor skills and improve hand-eye co-ordination.
Experimentation – children can experiment with different substances and to see how they change and combine.
Imagination – children can use their imagination both in the ways they use the elements and also the language they use to describe things.
Maths – messy play can even help with maths! Children can mix, portion, pour and measure as well as learning about shapes and colours.
As well as being fun, messy play is part of a play-based learning approach and also supports the early childhood curriculum Te Whariki. Messy play can support the Communication strand by helping children to be creative and express their feelings. The Exploration strand is covered by helping children to be active explorers and use their motor skills. If it is done in a group, as it normally is at our centre, it also supports the Contribution strand.
We are looking forward to our next messy play activity at the centre!