Playtime is always the highlight of any child’s day but messy play throws even more fun and excitement into the mix.

It offers babies and children a wide range of sensory experiences and is hugely beneficial to their cognitive and creative development. What’s more, it provides youngsters with the freedom they need to explore all sorts of possibilities and expand their natural curiosity because there’s no right way to use the materials.

Not for the faint-hearted, messy play incorporates anything from paint, water, sand, glitter, dough, bubbles, jelly and anything else you can be sure is bound to make a great big mess. Why is this type of activity so important to a child’s development however?

It allows them to grasp, squeeze, scoop, pour, spread and explore – these are all very important when it comes to building up the muscles they need for skills such as writing.


• It encourages children to use all their senses (particularly touch) while they’re moulding and manipulating materials

• It fosters your child’s natural curiosity as they’re free to experiment with different materials

• It practices good concentration which will prove beneficial when it comes to reading a book or writing a story independently as they get older

• We’re more likely to learn and remember things with practical work

• Because they’re allowed to play freely, it helps children to develop their imagination-

• They can gain independence because you’re allowing them to choose the shapes, materials and pictures they want to play with

• By exploring how things feel, smell and taste, this nurtures an awareness and understanding of the world that surrounds them-

• Because messy play is a sociable activity, it naturally helps children to enrich relationships through interaction, it encourages communication and crucially, it also aids with language development

• It’s a challenging and fun way to learn more about how things work

• It’s a fantastic way to stimulate the imagination


Messy play ideas


If you’re looking for some messy play ideas to incorporate into your child’s activities, here are some great suggestions:

• Play dough. You can even make your own using just four ingredients and some water – visit the BBC website for more information:

• Papier Mache. Simply mix one part flour to one part water and use strips of newspaper to stick onto your desired material. Once dry, kids can paint it to finish off their masterpiece

• Finger paints. Admittedly a very messy one but this really encourages young children to unleash their creative side

•Funny faces. A fun way to teach kids about parts of the body. You can use anything from pasta, leaves, flowers, sponges, ribbon and glitter to create your very own funny face


• Play in the bath

• Make the most of mealtimes by allowing your child to feel, smell and taste their food to ensure they’re engaging all of their senses

• Water play – get a large container and add some funnels, sieves and jugs to make this an extra fun activity for kids

• Potato or sponge stamps – a unique way to create some interesting artwork

•Chalk can be used on a blackboard or outdoors

If you would like more information about messy play and how we incorporate this into our learning at Tigers Day Nurseries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will be more than happy to help.