Finger painting, making slime, and jumping in mud puddles sound like all fun and games until it
is time to clean up. The daunting task of cleaning up glue and glitter after doing arts and crafts
can prevent many parents from wanting to engage their kids in messy play activities. However,
letting kids get messy is such an important part of their development. In this blog post, we are
sharing the many benefits of messy play.
By exploring different materials and how they feel, look, smell, and taste, kids learn more about
the world around them. Giving kids these opportunities also helps them learn about and
understand their senses. Some kids have a harder time tolerating messy play and letting
themselves be messy. Giving kids a variety of opportunities to explore different textures and
materials in a safe play helps them develop their sensory systems.
Fine motor skills
As kids squeeze materials, draw, and use different tools, they are learning how to use the
muscles in their fingers, wrists, arms, toes and shoulders to make small movements and
develop fine motor skills. They are also learning fine motor coordination by using these smaller
muscles together. With materials like shaving cream and paint, you can help children develop
their pre-writing skills and handwriting by drawing shapes and letters.
Gross motor skills
Splashing and jumping in puddles, carrying a bucket of water, and shoveling in sand are all
activities that can help kids build their gross motor skills. These types of activities require kids to
use their larger muscles to make bigger movements, which helps build their balance,
coordination, and overall strength and endurance.
Communication and Language Development
Messy play activities are inherently social, as they play with family or with other kids. Playing
with others helps develop communication and language skills, as well as develop meaningful
relationships. As you play with your kids, you can use descriptive words to help them learn
about the materials they are playing with and help them improve their language skills.
Curiosity and creativity
There is no one way or right way to have kids participate in messy play. Messy play lets kids
explore and experiment with new objects, materials, and textures without any specific end
goals. Chalk, glue, paint, sand, water, play doh, and other messy play activities are the perfect
opportunity for kids to use their imaginations as they explore and learn.
Ideas for Messy Play Activities
- Making slime
- Letting your child help you cook or bake
- Play doh
- Shaving cream
- Finger painting
- Kinetic sand
- Water beads
- Bath time play
- Playing in mud puddles
- Jump in leaf piles
- Playing in sandboxes
- Craft projects with glue and glitter
- Making a gingerbread house
Next time your kid wants to get messy, enjoy the process and watch them learn and grow!