Mayhem and Messy Play: Is Messy Play Worth It?

Is messy play worth it? Although it takes considerable effort on our part, the play and learning of messy play contributes to children’s development.

when your child comes home messy
Photo Source: La Classe de Mme Tipler & Mme McMillan

Recently, I saw this wonderful photo, “When Your Child Comes Home Messy.” ( Thank you, Tosh Tipler and Theresa McMillan.)It inspired another one, and today’s blog, “When Your Child Makes A Mess.” Like the photo says, your child has been exploring and having fun.

There are likely reasons why parents and caregivers do not encourage messy play. This whole month of blog posts, (the month of May) has built on mayhem and messy play and, hopefully, the activities have answered your concerns. Some of them might be:

We don’t have the right materials. The activities have included: soap foam and food coloring, baking soda and vinegar, paint, slime, blanket forts, crayon scribbles, dress-up clothes, kitchen tools, dirt and rocks, bubbles, play-dough, water, and ice. These are things you have at home already. They are readily available.

Messy play is expensive. Soap, food coloring, baking soda, and vinegar are very reasonable. Blankets, old clothes, dirt, rocks, bubbles, and ice are no-cost.

Messy play is hard to organize. This kind of play can be as easy as running water in the kitchen sink and letting kids explore. Yes, if you go on-line and scroll through blogs you can find elaborate suggestions but there are also some simple ideas.

Messy play is so time-consuming. Organizing play activities and clean-up can take a good chunk of time. There are some tricks like letting kids play in an empty tub. Dress them in a swimsuit or nothing at all and then wash them off. Spread newspapers on the floor or a tarp on the ground. Sometimes, cleaning up is part of the play, like when the blanket fort comes down.

We can’t always see the learning that’s happening for kids when they engage in messy play but the brain is as busy as their hands. The exploring, organizing, choosing, planning, testing, matching, creating, and imagining are only part of the learning and thinking. Children are also developing social skills, using language, and building confidence.when your child makes a messOften, children’s messy play activities grow into adult hobbies that provide meaning and life-long enjoyment. How do you answer the question: Is messy play worth it?

You can visit messy play and other activities on the play-of-the-day blog. Come and play every day.

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