Wondering what is Messy Play and why is it important. Children learn and grow with the help of play, but for a parent, messy play sounds very chaotic and untidy, however, that’s not the truth. It is important for parents to understand that messy play will help their child learn and develop. Messy Play has no definition it is a just fun-filled way of playing which also gives information to children about their surroundings. It is an opportunity to use the material in different ways, and there are no restrictions on it. Children with special needs can also use these open-ended materials and explore and innovate in their own way.

The development areas are as follows:

Sensory Adaptation: One of the vital developmental milestones is the sensory adaptation. As messy play gives various exposure in terms of different play items which can involve every sensory to adjust and grow as per environment demand. Particularly for children undergoing sensory integration therapy; messy play has shown promising results.  

Physical development: Physical development includes fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and gross motor skills. Activities may include stacking, pouring, measuring, stirring, shaking. Such activities will help children understand the texture and also will understand about their personal space to use and to respect others personal space.

Communication and language development: Children tend to express what they do in messy play. It will help the children to use new and different words. They tend to repeat the words the teacher or parents are using it while doing the messy play. It is also helpful if the teacher or parent can ask children open-ended questions and encourage them to answer.

Personal, emotional and social development: Messy play allows children to make choices, which help them feel good about it. It helps the child in developing personally and emotionally. Children tend to make decisions, make observations as well as coordinate with others during messy play. This helps them connect with emotions and develop emotionally.

Intellectual development: Messy play is definitely going to help in logical thinking. Children tend to classify, arrange things, match with each other and try to understand the causes of it. Eventually, their curiosity might encourage them to also try to understand the scientific method by knowing the purpose, researching on it, predicting, making observations, experimenting and so on.

Mathematical development: There are many opportunities that messy play provides us; it could be counting, making calculations, measurements, etc. 

Creative development: Messy play is a non-directive play, where children can experiment and innovate something. This also builds confidence and build self-esteem as there is no right-wrong, structure, rulers of messy play. Messy play gives them ample opportunity to explore their own creative thinking and developing skills.

“It’s in the mess that the real learning happens. Reaching the whole child or family requires that we position ourselves to see life not through our content or instructional expertise but simply as a human being”- Jeff Veal