Epic Mess at Seaward

October 26, 2018
Don’t we all remember once thinking, “Is she old enough?” when staring at the finger paints or gloop and then at a child, wondering if she would be able to actually use the tricky gooey stuff without just trying to eat it the entire time.
After some deliberation most of us plunge in, anxious to guard against the paint being carried by those chubby hands right into the mouths. Thankfully, spending just a few moments watching a child usually alleviates many fears – when they expertly swipe the paint on their shirt, dive in spreading it across the floor then around in circles. They look positively ecstatic, happy as clams and completely lost in a new sensory experience. It is almost impossible not to laugh at this sight, our hearts melt and we know deep inside that all this is so right for a child on so many different levels.

So, let’s talk about why exactly messy play is so important.

At Seaward children love to get messy. Children learn best through play, especially the exploratory kind. In other words, the messy kind.
Messy play is very useful. It gives a powerful input to the development of tactile sense and subsequently tactile discrimination – the ability to touch an object and know what it is without seeing it. Messy play can help with handwriting skills when children draw letters or shapes with the tips of their fingers.

Messy play isn’t always readily embraced and explored. It can send some children running for the hills or throwing a tantrum on the floor… Ever heard of tactile defensiveness? Despite sounding like a term borrowed from martial arts, it is certainly not but it is still a fascinating concept. When children are reluctant to touch messy textures, they may be tactile defensive. Tactile defensiveness might have a negative impact on eating habits, fine-motor skills, and even a child’s fashion sense (what they choose to wear and why). Slow and consistent approach to engage the reluctant children in playing messily helps break down not only tactile defensiveness but picky eating too. Who Knew? Before children try a new food, make them feel comfortable touching it and smelling it!

Messy play also helps children calm down and focus. If you want to find out more about Sensory Diets, then this is a topic for another blog post.

Being messy with friends supports conversational skills, imagination and curiosity. Children learn to chat about what they see, what they feel and what they smell. They rapidly learn new words to describe what’s in front of them.

We can play messily indoors and outdoors. Kitchen is a brilliant place to find all sorts of enticing ingredients. Water is usually one of the most important ones.

And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like – mostly wet. It can leave you devastated if spilled all over or splashed about the sofa… messy, messy, messy. But the price is worth paying if you know how important all this mess is for our children (even if we happen to be type A! Who wants to deal with the mess?!). Mess can be made manageable and our sanity intact with a few very simple precautions – vinyl tablecloths, trays, painting smocks, or simply pushing the explorers outdoors.

At Seaward we use playdough, cloud dough, soap foam, silly putty with glitter or spices for even more mess! We are driving toy cars and trucks through paint, slime (glue and borax), oobleck (or simply gloop) made of corn starch and water. Making Mud Pies and Fairy Soup are popular outdoors, as well as scooping out the pumpkin guts, painting with chocolate and jelly squashing. Those are just small examples of our daily repertoire.

Jelly is a great way to get messy and explore. It allows children to learn colours, smells and textures such as wobbly, slimy, cold and wet. A great idea is putting toys inside the jelly for the children to pick out using their hands or tweezers…and it doesn’t matter too much if someone even eats it!

Gloop is another big favourite at Seaward as the texture is truly amazing – changing from solid to liquid within seconds. The fascination keeps children focused for hours! Sensory-filled, inspiring, and easy mess.

Give it a try at home! In honest. We are happy to guide you. And remember, coming home messy from school shows your children had fun.

So did we.

Be the PondReflecting on the Special Child
Recent Posts

Call Us

01202 424655