Why is Messy Play Important?
Messy Play is an important part of early education. If offers many opportunities for learning. In designing a class for young children, it is crucial to foster growth in all areas of development.
Children will be given the tools to develop and practice fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. Activities such as stacking, pouring and spooning will develop eye-hand coordination. Practicing cutting, writing in shaving cream and using tongs will develop fine motor skills. Hands-on activities will provide opportunities for children to compare textures such as smooth, rough, hard and soft. While respecting each other's personal space, children will gain an understanding of their own body space.
Communication and Language Development
During messy play, children will be given many opportunities to speak and listen. They will use words and gestures to share resources, explain actions, negotiate plans and take turns. Teacher and caregiver will ask open ended questions to encourage thinking skills. The use of letters in the activities, leads to understanding the symbolic nature of written language. Journaling with the teacher encourages the narrative skills necessary for storytelling.
Personal, Emotional and Social Development
Messy Play is designed with children's natural curiosity in mind. It encourages a positive approach to new experiences. There is no "right" way for children to do messy play. This builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Through messy play, children can develop concentration, problem-solving and planning. Working with others fosters self-respect and respect for others. It also presents opportunities for making relationships. Messy play also offers an outlet for feelings, experiences and thoughts.
Children will investigate, explore, design and create leading to a better understanding of the world around them. Children will learn to group and classify, arrange items in a logical order, identify and match and understand cause and effect. As they observe, predict, try out solutions, observe the results, and evaluate information they gain a greater understanding of the scientific method.
Messy play offers many opportunities for counting, calculating and measurement. The children will sort objects, fill containers and create patterns. Numbers will be involved in many activities providing opportunities to understand their symbolic meaning.
Children are given endless opportunities with a variety of materials to build imagination and creativity. Through sensory experiences, they are able to respond to what they see, hear, feel, touch and smell. They will express their feelings and thoughts through color, texture, shapes and forms in two and three dimensions.
Messy play offers benefits to all children. It allows children of all abilites to become involved and get to know other children. Children who are in the process of learning English as a second language can join in and use the materials with their peers because messy play does not rely on words. Since there is no "right way" to do messy play, children with special needs can use these open-ended materials in their own way and still be a part of the group.