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We Love Mess!

At pick up time, you may notice that your child’s shirt is splattered with paint, their hands sprinkled with glitter, and their shoes covered in mud. In a child’s early years, messy play is a very important tool for developing a range of skills, and we love to include it in our daily experiences at Eden Academy. Messy play allows children to play and explore in ways that interest them without the worries of keeping themselves and their surroundings perfectly clean, taking their learning to new heights. This can be something as simple as pouring water back and forth between cups to slipping and sliding through mud, and all play a role in your child’s development.

Messy Play in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)

The EYLF is the curriculum on which Educators base their planning to facilitate children’s learning. Learning outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners, highlights the importance of allowing children to learn about themselves and the world around them through hands-on investigation. Creating a supportive environment for active learning enhances children’s engagement in learning, which is exhibited by their deep concentration and complete focus on what captures their interest. Messy play requires the children to be actively involved throughout the entire process. Children who are actively engaged in the learning process gain a deeper understanding of concepts, develop creative thinking, and participate in inquiry processes necessary for lifelong learning. Our experienced Eden Academy Educators support this by offering relevant and engaging learning experiences based on their knowledge of the child’s interests, parents’ goals for their child, and the way the child prefers to learn. As children get involved, their knowledge, skills, and values transform, and their confidence increases to pursue more learning!

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Messy Play for the Senses

Because Messy Play encourages children to be so actively engaged, it is a fantastic tool to promote experimenting and investigation using all 5 senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound. Some popular messy play activities that our educators love to do to encourage this are playdough, shaving foam, cornflour with water, slime, chia pudding or the classic mud kitchen, where all the senses are working together. There are so many ways to take the learning experience to the next level, and here are a few we like to use! 

Touch

Our educators encourage children to engage with the material by placing the experience below or at eye level and ensuring it is accessible and inviting. They experiment with adding different or new textures and mixing in some non-toxic paint or food colouring, which is especially effective for younger children. 

Smell

Our educators encourage children to explore their sense of smell by adding essential oils or spices to their activities. Discussions around the scents are initiated and they encourage children to guess what they are!

Taste

Infants and babies learn so much by mouthing things, and taste can be encouraged by introducing different textures and new foods, which can further be supported by involving children in the preparation of food. Many messy play resources can be created to be edible, like the Chia Seed Slime!

Sight

Our educators encourage looking and searching by adding additional elements into their activities, such as hiding glitter, sequins or pebbles in play-dough or slime!

Sound

Our Educators like to add some familiar calming music to the learning environment while the children play. Although it may be subconscious, children begin to associate the calming soundtracks with discovery and learning, and the music can be played at home to evoke a similar response. Sounds and onomatopoeia (sound words) are encouraged by setting up messy play activities to produce sounds, like trapping an air bubble in slime or play-dough and making it go POP! Our educators also like to move messy play outdoors and discuss the sounds that can be heard in nature to extend the child using these sound words in a real-world context!

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Our Top Tip for Removing Messy Play Stains

Of course, the messy play does not come without some sort of aftermath! We encourage you to send your child to childcare in clothes that are ok to get a stain here and there. And after all the fun has been had, many of our families have found using Sard’s Stain Remover Stick directly on any stains and adding to their wash as usual to be an effective method!

We hope you enjoyed this little dive into Messy Play, and we look forward to being able to share these wonderful experiences with your child soon!