Why is “messy play” such an integral part of early childhood education? Aside from offering children ample opportunities for learning, it fosters personal, intellectual, communication and language development, and, in a preschool setting, is a wonderful chance to encourage social and physical growth.
Communication and Language Development
While enjoying messy play time, children will have many opportunities to listen and speak with their fellow classmates. They will learn that they can use their words and hand gestures to share classroom materials, explain what they wish to do, negotiate and plan to play, and take turns during messy play time.
With messy play, kids are given the tools required to develop and practice eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Activities that develop eye-hand coordination, like stacking, spooning, or pouring, can be encouraged with water or sand play. While fine motor skills are further developed with activities such as practicing cutting paper, writing or drawing with shaving cream, or by using tongs to pick up objects. Tactile activities will give children the chance to become hands-on and compare textures such as soft and hard, and smooth and rough.
Personal, Emotional and Social Development
Messy Play is developed around children’s natural curiosity and tendency to question the world around them. It advocates a positive approach to new learning experiences. When it comes down to it, there is no “right” way for kids to do messy play, and this in itself is a real self-esteem and self-confidence booster. While having fun with messy play, children develop their concentration levels and increase their problem-solving abilities. Furthermore, working with other kids helps them learn about respect, self-respect, and encourages classroom friendship.
Messy play gives children the limitless opportunity to build their creativity and imagination with a wide array of materials. They can respond to what they feel, touch, hear, see, and smell, all through these sensory experiences. Children can also express how they feel through color, shapes, forms, and texture in two and three dimensions.
Through messy play, children end up with a better understanding of the world around them when they explore, create, investigate, and design with materials such as paint, sand, or crafting supplies. They will naturally learn to group items together and classify objects, organically arranging the items they’re using in a logical order. While they play in this manner, they’ll learn to identify, match, and understand cause and effect.
Messy play can benefit all children when used as an inclusive technique to group together kids of varying ability levels. Moreover, messy play is beneficial for children who are learning English as a second language since this type of play does not rely on words. As mentioned before, there is no “right” way to play, so children with special needs can also play, in their own manner and at their own pace, and still be a part of the classroom.