What are the benefits of messy play? Plus three autumnal ideas!
Squishing, squashing and squelching! Many children absolutely love to get involved with messy play. But does it really help your child develop? Absolutely! Messy play allows children to learn, develop and explore in a completely unstructured way. It also helps children to develop movement control, including fine and gross motor skills and supports co-ordination development too. It’s not often that children have the opportunity to explore using their entire body, hands, arms, legs, feet and body… all of these can be explored through messy play! The great thing is, there is no right or wrong way to do messy play. As we firmly head into the colder months, here are some Autumnal themed ideas for your little ones to explore, have fun and… get messy!
As the days get shorter and the weather changes, some of our furry friends begin to create their cosy nests for the months ahead. By providing your child with materials such as; sticks, feathers, pinecones, fabric, small wooden blocks, you can encourage your child to make a home for some woodland creature that will go into hibernation soon. By doing this you can also teach your child about different texture by describing the materials you have provided and increase the number of words in their vocabulary. Using our Woodland Friends nesting babies to support your child with this kind of play would support their development even further by making habitats for different animals a less abstract idea, and also encourage them to use their imagination by extending the play using the Woodland Friends as little characters.
‘Tis the season to carve a pumpkin! If you are a pre-schooler the act of carving a pumpkin is not actually that much fun, simply because it requires the fine and gross motor skills and muscle development of a much older person (let’s be honest… usually a willing parent!). But that doesn’t mean the youngest children can’t get involved. The inside of a pumpkin is actually very interesting for a small child. When you cut the top off a pumpkin and lift it up, you reveal all of the seeds and flesh hanging down from the lid- so many opportunities here to use new language: slimy, sticky, smooth etc! Then, by scooping out the inside of the pumpkin children have the opportunity to experience all kinds of different textures from the flesh, seeds and tough skin. You can simply put this on your child’s high chair or in a tray and allow them to explore. Or if your child isn’t keen on the texture, try using a zip lock food bag and allowing your child to explore the inside of the pumpkin without getting it on their hands. Halloween may be behind us but there is not reason to not try this again or with another fruit/vegetable.
One of my favourite things about Autumn are the incredible colours that we see as the trees begin to change colour, and then watching as the fall to the ground. You can have great fun and learn so much about size, colour and shape by heading out on a Sacvenger hunt and collecting all different kinds of leaves. Bring them home and place them on a tray outside to allow your child to really study the different features of the leaves, listen to rustling sound, and perhaps find a minibeast friend who has made their way home with you! You can extend your child’s learning here by introducing the language of size such as: small, medium and big. You could also add resources such as magnifying glasses and bug catchers to really encourage them to take a closer look. You can take this even further by introducing a song to this activity, Autumn Leaves Are Falling Down to the tune of ‘My Fair Lady’, is a really simple song that young children love (and it’s easy for adults to remember!). Check out Nigel from the Baby Club singing it here.
We hope that you and your children have great fun getting messy this Autumn- we would love to hear if you have given these activities a go! Get in touch with us on Instagram @rosaandbo and we’ll feature your photographs on our account.
This blog has been written by our Resident Play Expert here at Rosa & Bo, Sarah Doman. Sarah is a Hypnobirth and Early Years Expert. She helps families from pregnancy to children of school age to give birth and parent with confidence. You can find her on social media @sarahldoman .