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Respect the Mess

Learning Our World

Most parents intuitively understand that kids come with a certain amount of mess and adopt a quiet tolerance towards it. But when you've got the mop out taking care of your end of Messy Play it can be frustrating. So let’s consider the benefits of Messy Play.

What is Messy Play?

The traditional definition involves sensory materials that children use to experience different tactile experiences. Among them...

Playtime

Dough

Clay

Slime

Fingerpaints

Chalk

Glue

Glitter

Markers

Crayons

Soft Toys

Squeezy Toys

Bubbles

Bath

Water

Soap

Foam

Bubbles

 

Kitchen Ingredients

Wet

Dry

Grainy

Crumbly

Sticky

Gelatinous

Greasy

Slippery

Outdoor

Water

Rain

Snow

Puddles

Dirt

Mud

Sand

Pebbles

Grass

Leaves

Flowers

Trees/Bark

Seeds

Shells

Feathers

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Sensory Development

Tactile, sensory experiences with materials like these are important to your child's developing brain. Sensory stimulation helps the brain craft its own unique picture about our world. When your child explores different textures like messy stuff, sensory receptors in the skin are complimenting all of their other senses in developing that "full picture" the brain needs. And while the mess is molding your child’s life library, it's doing a whole lot more too...

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1. Fine Motor Messiness

The very nature of Messy Play is a call to action for the fingers, working the tiny muscles to build strength, endurance, and coordinated movements. This, in combination with core and upper body development, is where young hands form the ability to carefully manipulate a crayon, pencil, keyboard, piano keys, guitar strings, slide rules, etc.


2. The Power of Mess

When little ones discover they can make a difference -- large or small, accidental or deliberate, neat or messy – they are awakening to the idea that they have the power to do things by and for themselves. Messy Play is a dramatic expression of that power as they physically transform themselves and the space around them. 

3. Cleanliness is Next to Messiness

What does clean feel like? We know it intuitively but little ones don’t. As upside down as this sounds, your child can’t have complete understanding of “clean” if they don’t have meaningful experiences with “messy?” To that end...

4. The More the Messier

Once the mess begins, as grown-ups our instinct is to start cleaning. But when your child is already up to their elbows, there's pretty much no difference between "messy" and "messier."  So why not go all in? When messier happens, the exuberant freedom from everyday expectations of conformity and neatness is a great emotional release for children. And at some point, with enough mud in their hair or sand in their shoes or snow down their back, even they may find their limit and want to stop. And isn’t that a great life lesson... defining your own limits.

 

5. The After Mess

Whenever you can, engage your child in the clean up, It’s important for them to learn to respect their environment. And by seeing the transformation from messy back to neat, they are learning that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves -- your family -- and they’re right at home where they belong... AFTER they take a bath, of course!

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Making Mudprints

Pick a warm day and head out to the garden and together fill a container with soil. Pour in some water to make mud. (Yes, mud.) Take their socks and shoes off so they can mix the mud with their feet. Then, on the sidewalk make mudprints. Try tiptoes, zigzags, giant steps, penguin waddles, pigeon toes and so on. P.S. You can do this with water, but mud is a lot more fun!

Seven? Yes, seven. The two senses we didn't learn about in school. LEARN MORE...

An at a glance guide.

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Learning to finish what you start is an important readiness skill.

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And there's more...

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