Why is messy play so important?
Children love making a mess – whether that’s squishing jelly through their hands, smearing paint across their faces or crunching cereal between their fingers!
Does messy play really benefit a child?
Yes! Messy play is extremely important for a child’s development. It provides children with an exciting tactile and sensory experience that inspires their curiosity, allows them to explore the world around them and enhances their learning, language and creativity. Children learn through experimentation and discovery and messy play encourages children to explore new textures and manipulate different materials through touch.
Not only does messy play enhance a child’s cognitive development and learning, but it also improves a child’s physical development as well!
The Benefits of Messy Play for a Child’s Physical Development
Fine Motor Skills
Messy play helps young children develop their early motor skills. When children squeeze play dough, scoop up sand or make marks in flour, they are learning to refine their fine motor skills by using the muscles in their fingers, wrists, arms, toes and shoulders to make small movements. Children also practice coordinating their fine motor skills by combining muscles together when picking up different objects throughout messy play.
Gross Motor Skills
When children jump in water, throw sand or produce large scale mark making with bigger objects such as paint swatters, they are also enhancing their gross motor skills. Children use the larger muscles in their arms, legs, feet and body to make bigger movements which support balance, coordination and strength.
When children practice fine and gross motor skills in messy play, they are strengthening their muscles and developing muscle control in their body. Introducing children to a variety of messy play activities will build up strength in their different muscle groups. Mark making in paint helps children improve the muscles in their hands and fingers, which also prepares them for holding a pencil and controlling these movements for writing, whereas, activities such as stomping in custard will strengthen the muscles in their legs.
Hand Eye Coordination
Experimenting with messy play through touch also enhances the children’s hand-eye coordination. Certain messy play activities prompt and improve children’s concentration, such as cutting shapes out of play dough or picking up small items and putting them in small places helps children develop the skill of grasp and release as well as their hand-eye coordination
Body Control & Balance
Messy play is an extremely hands-on sensory activity, which enhances children’s body control and balance through the large and small movements that they make when they play. Simple actions, such as holding a paint brush or pouring water from one container to another, helps children focus their fine and gross motor skills, which improves their control and balance with practice.