There is no denying that messy play is messy—it’s in the name, but this simple play style is one of the best ways for your child to learn and develop because it engages children’s senses during their developmental stage. Here are some ways that messy play can help your child develop:
It Fosters Curiosity
There is no hard and fast rule to conducting messy play. Its open nature allows children to manipulate and experiment with raw materials, such as mud, play dough and food, and use their imagination to reach their desired outcome.
It Promotes Emotional Regulation
Messy play is a way to reduce your child’s agitation by giving them a sensory activity to focus on. For more information about sensory play, read our other post The Benefits of Sensory Play.
It Encourages Communication
Messy play is a great way to encourage children to describe what they’re touching, seeing and smelling. Children may use words like “yucky” or “icky” if they’re touching something slimy or sticky; this is good because it means children are making their minds up about how they feel about these experiences. Different messy play types are also an opportunity to expand your child’s vocabulary, for example during water play, you can use words like “bubbly, wet, cold, warm”.
It Helps Practice Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination
As mentioned before, the open nature of messy play allows children to manipulate and experiment with raw materials. For example, a child may draw squiggles and shapes in the sand or play dough, or they may pour water from one cup into another. This type of play gives children the opportunity to practice a wide range of motions, which in turn helps them develop their motor skills.
Messy Play with Your Children
The best place to have a messy play with your child is outside; there are many elements that they can explore like leaves, rocks and plants. It’s also easier to clean up messy play that you set up for them. If the outdoors isn’t ideal, then setting up space inside with plastic tubs and a damp cloth on standby is your best option.
Also, consider incorporating these things into your child’s messy play:
- Different tastes and textures in your child’s foods (jelly, mashed veggies, dry pasta)
- Play dough, foam, slime
- Soapy water in different sized containers
- Paints and different tools to apply the paint with
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