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Messy Art Play Is About More Than The Mess

Have you ever had the experience where your child all of a sudden got so quiet? And when you turned around all you saw was a giant mess all over the floor?

Were you mad? I was.

Do parents like seeing that at home? Of course not. But the experience is necessary and way more valuable than the mess looks.

Messy Art Play is deep play. It’s a practice of independence and focus. It’s also a way for children to express their emotions.

For very young children, messy discoveries are crucial to their senses and brain development. The experience of making the mess, exploring it, witnessing the reactions of others to it, all create neural connections in the child’s brain, teaching them what to associate with such an experience.

For older children, messy play is a chance to collaborate, push boundaries, and connect to their inner self. Their learning will naturally extend as they problem-solve and innovate either with their peers or individually.

For children of any age, the messy play likely arises from interest, curiosity, wonder, and joy! They are curious about the materials, what will happen when they are manipulated or moved in different ways. They wonder about their properties when used individually and combined. They are excited to engage with the materials, and this sparks joy that they want to share with those around them!

Messy play is a reflection…

Of the child’s deep focus.

Of their interest and curiosity about the materials.

Of their voices.

Of their joy.

Deep engagement in play is incredibly powerful. This is where the learning happens!

Materials that lend themselves to messy play - like paint or a bunch of loose parts - allow children to engage deeply in play. The mindful, concentrated work of children in messy play gives them the time and tools to reflect on their emotions and develop self-regulation skills.

Messy doesn’t have to mean paint or goop or mud, but adding in that sensorial exploration elevates it that much more!

Share your messy play stories with us! What did your child get into that made a mess?

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