Stride Ahead: LET'S
shared by: Janet Barr OTR/L
Therapist, STRIDE Learning Center
play : a crucial sensory
stage of development for the tactile(touch/skin) system and the nervous system
for gross and fine motor development, body awareness, bilateral integration,
left/right discrimination, and self-regulation.
Encouraging messy play on a DAILY basis will "do the body good".
Let your child know it is ok to get messy, show them how to dress for the
- Designate a messy zone and messy time…so they know when and
where it is ok to get messy.
- Explore new textures and encourage tactile experiences.
- Let baking and cooking be a time to get messy…dig in!
- Messy play in the back yard on a warm or hot day is the easiest
clean up ever….just a garden hose away.
- Beginning with infancy, let your baby feed him/herself, dump the
baby food jar right on the tray and let them go for it.
- Bath time is an excellent time for messy play. Use play
foam soaps, Sudsy Mudsy, or tub paint.
- The bath tub is also an excellent contained spot for messy play
(without the water). Use a tub of cool whip, pudding, yogurt and let the child
paint their whole body. THEN give them a bath, you are already there!
- Finger paint, finger paint, finger paint.
- Cook a big pot of pasta, add a little oil and let cool. This is
quite the sensory experience for the hands and feet.
- A shaving cream slip and slide outdoors in the summer or put the
shaving cream on the slide in the backyard, and watch them fly!
- Use soft paint brushes and pudding and let your kiddo paint
himself from head to toe.
- And get creative...the possibilities are endless!
is Messy Play Important?
Messy Play is an important part of early education.
If offers many opportunities for learning and growth in all areas of
TOP 10 REASONS TO GET MESSY
Physical 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
Sensory Development - 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
- Intellectual Development - 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.
- Mathematical Development - 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.
- Creative Development - 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.
- Special Benefits - Messy play offers benefits to all children. It
allows children of all abilities 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.
It's easy- just pull
some items out of nature, your kitchen, or your bathroom.
will have a blast- Adults included!
Just mix baby oil and flour in a 1:8 ratio.
¼ c. baby oil
2 c. flour
2 cups of corn starch
water to make a thick mixture (about the texture of pancake batter)
measure equal amounts of water and corn starch, but
mix water in slowly.
Mix all ingredients together. This makes a fun
mixture to play with textures. Use different utensils, such as a spatula, bowl,
and funnels, to see what form the mixture will take.
- 1/2 cup liquid starch
- 1 cup white glue
- food coloring
- Mix together the liquid starch and glue.
- Add food coloring if you want colored slime.