Now, I know that messy play isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. The gunk, goo and muck is bound to put a lot of people off, I get it. I really thought I wouldn’t be its greatest fan, but seeing the amount of fun that George has, has resulted in me being 100% converted. Not only does George have crazy amounts of fun (so much so, that he’s started doing this excited, high-pitch, squeaky scream whenever we go), but the benefits to his development are huge!
Three weeks ago, I saw an advert on Facebook for a “messyfingers” group starting up locally to where I live. My initial thoughts were “oh no, I don’t want George ruining his clothes!” and “what good is it going to do a baby getting mucky?”, but the more I read about it the more I was intrigued and thought what the heck, let’s give it a go. Especially when one of my other mummy friends asked if me and George wanted to go with her and her son, as a play date.
The first time we went I really didn’t know what to expect. The group is held in a Village Hall kind of building with kitchen facilities - I think it is inevitable that there will be a lot of cleaning and washing up. The women who run the group are lovely, one of whom has a son not much older than George.
Laid out on the floor are different “pools” of foods and textures; Rice Krispies, spaghetti, jelly, paint, water and flour. A concoction perfect for making a whole lot of mess. Although I have to teach George that eating flour really isn’t cool...or tasty!
Note that at this particular group, the babies must be at least six months old. I’m guessing this is so that if they eat anything, then it’s ok because they will already be in the process of weaning. We had to sign forms at the first session to say we conform to health and safety rules etc. before taking part. I also take a change of clothes for George, and make sure I’m wearing something I don’t mind getting dirty.
The first time I put George down into one of the pools, he really wasn’t sure what to make of it. Do I eat it? Do I touch it? He must have wondered what an earth I was doing to him the poor soul. After a few minutes of watching the other babies playing, eating, throwing and squishing the stuff in the pools, he soon got in the swing of things. It was hilarious. He was having so much fun. The state that some of the children get in is so funny, it’s nice to see them not having a care in the world.
During the first session, one of the ladies who was running the group asked whether we’d like to see the information board she’d put together of all the benefits of messy play. So George wasn’t only having a whale of a time, this activity was also benefiting his development.
The benefits of messy and sensory play groups are (apart from not having to tidy up the mess):
Learn to play independently.
Strengthen body control.
Creates understanding of the senses.
Like I said, I know messy play isn’t for everyone, but if you can get your head around a little bit of dirt, the benefits to your little ones learning and development is sooo important. It’s super easy to do it at home too if you don’t have similar groups in your area. Even letting them play in the bath with yoghurt pots is beneficial!
“If you can get past the fear of looking silly or getting a little dirty, you sure can have a lot of fun here in this thing that we call life” - Doe Zantamata