I love doing messy play with T, although I definitely go through seasons of doing loads and then having a dry spell! Messy play is such a brilliant activity because it allows children to explore, experiment and create using all their senses. It provides so many learning opportunities!
Before Christmas I challenged myself to do 20 days of messy play. I have to admit, I didn’t totally think it through and a combination of family commitments we had and then Christmas meant that I didn’t manage to complete the challenge! However, we did fit in lots of different messy play and had a whale of a time doing it!
You will need:
- Green or blue food colouring
- A large container (a washing up bowl or shallow storage box is perfect)
- Toy sea creatures
- Shells and stones
To create your messy play:
- Boil some water in a pan and add spaghetti – enough to cover the base of your container. Add a few drops of blue and/or green food colouring to the water.
- Once cooked, drain the spaghetti and add a small amount of oil to prevent it from sticking. Mix well so that the spaghetti is coated in oil.
- Allow it to cool and add to your container along with some ocean creatures.
- Add interest to the play scene by adding shells, stones or any other appropriate materials which you have to hand.
What they are learning:
- Sensory development
- Hypothesising and experimenting
- Being creative
- Storytelling and communication
- Finding out about the natural world
Ways to extend the play:
- Add in some other props such as a boat with some figures, or a ‘treasure chest’ (could be a matchbox) with some beads or coloured gems in.
- Develop fine motor control by using tongs or chopsticks to move the spaghetti.
- Ask open ended questions as your child plays, or encourage them to help you create a story.
- Add some wooden or plastic letters to the tray, or you could even write them on the shells or stones. This gives children opportunities to familiarise themselves with letters, learn that they have meaning, and begin to name them. Older children might be able to find things beginning with the sounds they see in the tray or make simple words. Alternatively, you could add numbers to build on number recognition and counting skills. It’s much more interesting for the child to be able to pick up and use the letters and numbers in their play the to just see them in print!
- Find out some facts with your child about the creatures they are playing with and use this to inform their play. Use stories or information books from the library, or find information online.