The Benefits of Messy Play
With opportunities to explore different sensory materials, children discover new ways to express themselves and develop confidence in and control of their bodies. There is no “right way” with messy play. Studies show that the benefits for development lie in the open-ended nature of play, as children follow their own creative processes, practise new skills, solve problems, and share with others the wonder of exploring with their senses.
5 benefits for children
For children, messy play is liberating, fun and fully absorbing. Naturally curious, children show high levels of concentration and engagement as they explore with their senses, which heightens their learning experience. From a child’s perspective, messy play is magical – full of excitement and pure joy.
Messy play stimulates children’s curiosity, fuels their imaginations and offers new outlets for self-expression. Different materials and tools present new challenges and ideas, and through exploration and experimentation, children develop confidence and self-esteem.
Promotes physical development
As children explore with their hands and try out new tools and instruments, they develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Through practising and mastering new skills, they gain confidence in and control of their bodies.
Encourages communication and social skills
Messy play supports positive interactions. When children share their sensory experience with others, they’re encouraged to tell stories, take turns, negotiate, explain ideas and bond over their shared fun. These interactions support language development and social skills.
Provides new experiences
Messy play provides new sensory experiences. Through open-ended exploration, children learn about different materials and their properties, and investigate how substances can be mixed, manipulated and changed.
5 benefits for adults
Strengthens your connection
Messy play offers an opportunity to forget about the washing and dishes, and to play and bond with your child. Saying yes to messy play, you’re offering your child an experience that is fun and inspiring, and they will love sharing it with you.
Offers fun and relaxation
Messy play can be relaxing as well as liberating for adults. With household demands put aside, rolling playdough beneath your hands can be a calming exercise. Messy play is also an opportunity to ‘let go’ and have fun, making swirls with finger paint or dipping your toes into slime.
Presents new ideas
Exploring a range of messy play activities is inspiring for adults, as they see the fun and learning that even the simplest materials can provide, and pick up new ideas to try at home.
Allows you to socialise
With your child absorbed in the play, here is an opportunity for you to connect with other adults. A chance to talk and laugh and, if you like, get messy.
The mess isn’t at your house!
The paint stains won’t be on your curtains and the playdough won’t be stuck in your carpet, so there’s no reason not to embrace messy play. Of course, you may be inspired to try it out again when you get home.
Say yes to mess!
Come and explore messy play activities that spark creativity and unlock learning at your local Playcentre. Get involved and have fun with your child without the mess at home.
With over 400 centres across Aotearoa there is one near you. www.playcentre.org.nz
Playcentre Aotearoa values parents as the first and best educators for their children, so that families are strengthened, and communities enriched.