Creative Child

Say Yes to the Mess – Benefits of Messy Play

by Rebecca Eanes

Messy play is great for children’s development. It allows them to explore their senses, be creative, work on fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and so much more! Messy play can also calm anxiety. It can also help children regulate their emotions and express their feelings. Activities such as building with blocks or logs, creating sculptures, and engineering structures help kids build problem-solving skills and teaches cooperation. Creative play increases confidence and can help encourage independent play as well.

If you’re like me, the idea of messy play might not be appealing. In order to allow your child to engage in messy play but also contain the mess and make clean-up easy, try the following ideas:

  • Use a vinyl tablecloth and just toss at the end.
  • Put the messy materials in a dry tub and allow your child to play there. When they’re finished, just rinse the mess down the drain.
  • Buy a pack of oversized t-shirts for painting, etc.
  • Take the mess outside in the grass if possible.
  • Use a bin, large tray, or even an inflatable infant pool to contain the mess.
  • Buy a plastic drop cloth in the paint aisle and spread on the floor.
  • Use the sink for messy play.

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Engage the Senses:

Sensory play is beneficial to kids for many reasons, and messy play provides lots of sensory experiences. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates any of your child’s senses: Hearing, sight, touch, smell, taste, balance, and proprioception. Children constantly use their senses to explore and learn, but sensory play is for specific sensory engagement that benefits their growing brains and bodies. Read more about the benefits of sensory play here.

Fun and messy sensory play ideas:

  1. Bury treasure in a sandbox.
  2. Make slime.
  3. Elephant toothpaste.
  4. Sensory bins.
  5. Sound jars.
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