Thursday, 9 June 2016

Life is Messy - How messy play can improve children’s development

Back in my childhood I was about as far away from your typical girly girl as you could get. Although my Mother dressed me in pretty dresses every chance she got, I would don them with my favourite pair of wellies and head out on a day of messy adventure. One moment jumps to the forefront of my mind as I think about pairing my pretty dresses with my wellington boots, it was a cold day in the midst of winter. We were living in Yorkshire at the time, and as it was a new build home, it meant that the upcoming estate around us was still a building site. I cannot have been much more then 5 years old at the time, but my Mother waved me off as I went out the front to play and warned me 'you make sure you stay away from those big muddy puddles!'.

And just like that, off I went. Of course I didn't stay away from those big muddy puddles. I may have even plodded along to the first one I could find, which unfortunately for me happened to be a pretty deep one, full of thick sludgy mud. My wellington boot became lodged and I was stuck fast, lead astray by the young boys I was with, they thought the situation was hilarious. They pulled me trying to free me, before one of them gave me a push and down I went into the gloopy mess beneath me. I was covered, head to foot kind of covered. The pretty dress was ruined and I knew that I was going to be in big, big trouble when I got home...The result was  being hosed down in the middle of November outside the house. I laugh about it today, as does my Mother, but if there were camera phones back then...Boy I know she would have taken a few snaps.

Messy play is such an important part of early development , it helps build essential life skills and you learn so much about how things work, eco systems and nature. Although Leo has never really been into art and craft, we did have a great time making mud pies! Mud pies were a signiture trait of mine back in the day... Although I don't re-call Mum being overly pleased when she found them in the kitchen fridge.. As recollection serves, she wasn't a fan of me bringing the snails into the house either.. has created a fun and informative educational resource that offers some splendid ideas for outdoor and messy play! With Summer on the way, it is the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy some interactive challenges, the kind that don't require an iPad or an iPhone! 

'Life is Messy' is 30 fun activities that wil get you outside and get you DIRTY!

Each idea is supported by extra information and inspiration to make sure you can create the activity.

Why not give these a whirl?

Chemistry Lab Explosion – budding scientists in the class will love this simple experiment. All you need is bicarbonate of soda, food colouring and vinegar.

- Glass Paint – why restrict the kids to just paper? Let them loose on a window or a pane of glass with some homemade glass paint. It’s easy to make and easy to clean off. The kids will love admiring their creations, especially when the sun is shining through.

- Papier Mache – a classic favourite with all the kids! You can pretty much make anything, and the children can get really creative with the paints and the decorating of the sculptures they design.
The messy play challenge was created after carried out a survey revealing the nation’s attitude to play, with rather surprising results:

29% of parents worry their child’s development is negatively affected by TV, games consoles and other technology.

-The two main areas of development highlighted by parents as being the most negatively affected were social skills (44%) and attention span (31%).

-  41% of parents discourage their children from getting dirty or messy when playing outside for fear of extra housework or germs. 

With children’s development potential being affected through lack of play in the home and a dependency on technology as a whole, it has never been more important for teachers to incorporate messy play into lesson planning. We are lucky that at Leo's school they have a Forest School area, so once a week they get to head outside and make fires, get muddy and really enjoy them selves. We are equally as lucky that our house today backs onto a local Nature Reserve (A place I was free to roam from an early age!) and Leo gets to frequent today.

Andrew Kirkcaldy, group brand director at stated: 

“We carried out the survey to understand parent’s attitudes towards children’s play, and more specifically messy play. We know that children are becoming more and more used to technology, and although this has its benefits, we wanted to challenge families and teachers to put aside the iPads for a short while and get the children out and messy! Helping children’s development is so important, and so we created the Life is Messy campaign to help inspire parents and teachers.”

The Life is Messy campaign includes the 30 day messy play challenge and the survey data, along with lots of other fun information. You can take a look at it here.

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