Messy Play – why it’s so important…..

May 20, 2019

At Paint Pots Nurseries, we encourage our children to embrace messy play and the learning and development that comes from it.

To be successful, it is all about letting children explore and experiment with different objects and raw materials without any end goals to restrict them. For example, although toys can be fun, such as a toy car, children are restricted in the ways that they can use them. With raw materials such as sand, water, chalk, paint, play dough or paste, children’s imaginations can run wild and they can spend a long time exploring these, making their own discoveries, stimulating their curiosity and developing their knowledge.

With messy play, the sensory experience also helps children to understand their senses. By exploring how things feel, smell and taste, this type of play nurtures an awareness and understanding of the world that surrounds them

Messy play is a particularly important form of play for babies and toddlers.

Cognitive development in children occurs when their senses are stimulated and messy play is awesome because it stimulates so many of their senses at once.  But how does it help your child develop?

Physical development

Through touching and experimenting children develop fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. It is these hands-on activities that give your child the chance to discover and explore different textures. Is it soft, hard, slimy, smooth? As children explore objects and materials such as water, paint, playdough, food and sand in an unrestricted way, it enables them to understand how things feel, smell and taste. Imagination and experimentation during messy play is always encouraged at Paint Pots as well as sharing what they have learned with others. Activities such as pouring, shovelling or drawing in the sand help build strength in the large muscle groups at the top of the arms and it is these muscles that then enable the smaller muscles in the hands and fingers to make precise and controlled movements. 

Communication and Language

Through discussing what they are doing and feeling, children can then start to articulate differences. This also encourages children to think through their actions so they can explain it to others.

Messy play is a sociable activity, whether with family or other children, so naturally, it will enrich relationships through social interaction. As young children can’t explain things verbally, it allows them to share their discoveries in different ways through the use of objects and gestures and in order to do this, they need to think through their actions so they can communicate this explanation which also helps develop their cognition.

Social and emotional development

Giving children an environment where there is no right or wrong builds self-esteem and positive experiences. By working in a group, they have opportunities to make new friends and learn respect for others as well as themselves. As children engage in messy play activities, they share their feelings and thoughts with each other, which supports their emotional development.

How to do this at home

There is no right or wrong when it comes to messy play so any child can participate, whatever their ability. When thinking of an activity, always keep safety in mind and don’t be afraid to get involved. Try and make new things with your child and talk through what you are doing to help them learn. When it comes time to clean up, we have a few tips to help minimise the mess and ensure it doesn’t get out of control.

  • Have a spare set of children’s clothes ready.
  • Only commit to messy play when you have enough time for clean up.
  • Have a set of clothes for messy play or wear a protective apron.
  • Use water-based paints because they are easier to wash off most surfaces.
  • Cover surfaces such as floors and tables with washable sheets or old towels.     Plastic painting tarps can be found at the hardware store, which can be reused.
  • Setup messy play areas in places around your house that is easy to clean, such as outdoors or a tile floor.
  • Invest in a sandpit
  • Have a set of rules about how different materials are used. For example: ‘the paint stays outside’, ‘the sand stays in the sandpit’.
  • Have fun! Kids love messy play. Even if you aren’t participating, you can ask open ended questions such as ‘Why did that happen?’ or ‘How did you create that?’ to encourage critical thinking.

Messy play at Paint Pots

When your child is at Paint Pots they will have many opportunities to create, build, investigate and discover. Best of all, we take care of the mess!

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Paintpots Nurseries Group
Paintpots Nurseries serve Manchester and Cheshire with 3 day nursery locations. Conveniently located close to residential and business areas, our nurseries offer your child a superb learning and development environment.
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Paint Pots Manchester Day Nursery
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the little workshop sk1
the little workshop sk1
22:22 01 Nov 19
Wow!!!! Were to begin.. this is by far the best nursery I could have sent my children too. The staff are extremely... friendly helpful and ensure the children are cared for and they learnt so much. My children settled really well and have both enjoyed being here. Seeing them so happy and always excited for the next day at paintpots Manchester makes me feel so at ease leaving them. They are always involving parents in everything and make you feel like one big family. A massive thank you to everyone who works there and all you have done. Looking forward to extending our family into their welcoming nursery again in the more
Kelsey Gervis
Kelsey Gervis
15:20 25 Oct 19
Both my children and Went this nursery would definitely recommend!! Great activities and lovely staff.
Strong Mama
Strong Mama
12:02 10 Oct 19
Lovely nursery. My son went in for 2 days but the staff were great and genuine. Will definitely be returning when I... start my second year of studies next year and my son is 2. Ideal location. Lovely staff. Thank you everyone. You've been greatread more
Italia Rice
Italia Rice
20:55 30 May 19
My child has been here and its absolutely fab! The staff are so good and the pics they send every daybonto my phone... make my day!! Thank you xxread more
15:45 21 Mar 19
Staff seems to be very close to children and that is very important. In addition, the nursery encourage children to... engage in messy and sensory play to learn and more
mark pearson
mark pearson
05:21 22 May 18
Sent my step-son here for over 2 years before he started school. Perfect location, great staff and most importantly, he... loved it. Only issue was the refurbishment of the building taking place, but they even managed to use that as a learning experience and the kids all loved the builders and diggers opposite!!read more
Megan Davies
Megan Davies
12:41 31 Jan 18
I Sent my little girl here from a small baby and watched her grow in to a confident, bright young lady. I could not... praise and thank the staff here enough, they were like our second family. Very relaxed, friendly, homely environment with the children at the centre of everything they more
James Bradley
James Bradley
12:38 27 Jan 18
I sent my child to this Nursery after having sent his 2 older siblings. I work in the City Centre and they love the... place, they all did. There are staff that have been there for over 10 years, location is fantastic and whilst the recent renovation works have not been ideal, it hasn't affected the care one bit. Somehow, they even find a way to make activities that involve the construction materials. Can't recommend highly enough!!read more
SharQuita Pemberton
SharQuita Pemberton
15:29 27 Mar 17
Best nursery my daughter has attended. Embarrassed to say but due to domestic issues she has been to 4 nurseries. now... that I'm in the clear and can chose any nursery she has started back at this nursery❤️❤️ Kind understanding staff. Very friendly and more
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