What Makes Childhood Magical? #21 – Messy Play

There is nothing like the satisfaction of making a mess. Having a magic wand to clean it up would be a definite plus, but still and all, messy play is pretty enjoyable. A formula for a magical childhood could be: play + mess.

What makes messy play so much fun?

  • For a start, messy play has no right or wrong. Kids can use the materials in an endless variety of ways. There is no intention to ‘be’ something, or ‘make’ a product, it’s all about the doing.
  • messy play activitiesMessy play is very hands-on, and includes the other senses too. Besides touching and feeling, there can be sights, sounds, smells, and sometimes taste.
  • Because this play is so self-directed, kids can start, stop, get distracted and return to it as they need.
  • The answers to “What happens if…” can be something different each time, or exactly the same, but kids get to find out for themselves.

What are some fun messy play activities?

  • Touch and feel messy play could include sand, dirt, mud, and water. Playdough is a wonderful choice and can be slimy, stretchy, and gooey. Some kids do not like to get messy hands and some kinds of playdough are okay for them.
  • messy play activitiesHelping a grownup make bread could be considered messy play. With the assistance of little hands, the flour can go everywhere. Sprinkling some cinnamon and a bit of sugar on bits of dough makes great smells when baking.
  • It’s fun to explore with paints beyond the borders of a page. Spread newspapers all over the floor, give your child a brush and maybe only one container of paint. Clothes, if worn, need to be washable.
  • Sprinkles are one of the ultimate materials for messy play and they come in a whole rainbow of colors. No amount of newspapers though will keep them from getting everywhere.

One of the messiest activities I did was with homemade soap for giant bubbles. Corn syrup was one of the ingredients along with glycerine and soap. The soap should have helped for washing, but the syrup meant that the bubbles were sticky. Of course, when the bubbles popped this spread the stickiness and dirt stuck to hands, faces, and clothes. The kids had fun but I avoided that recipe.  What kind of messy play does your child like?

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