Small acts of kindness can go a long way!
A topic that some parents' (and some educators) consider their worst nightmare.
As an educator, I support getting messy!
I have always been the ECE that pulls out the glitter, the paint and any other creative material to allow children to freely explore the fun, and sensory pleasing joys of messy art.
It does take some bravery and preplanning to execute a good messy activity, otherwise it can be a stressful event for both you and the child. To set everyone up for success make sure that your space is prepared for the least amount of disaster.
This step is particularly useful in supporting your mental health, less clean up typically equals less stress.
But why do children need a messy activity?
Messy play experiences allow children to tap into their senses. They usually involve touch, for example goop is an amazing sensory activity. The warmth from a child’s hand warms the goop and it slowly drips through their fingers.
(*What is goop? Amazing activity but WOW is it messy! It is so incredibly simple, you mix together cornstarch and water - food coloring is an option but can sometimes stain little hands. The consistency is almost hard but the warmth from hands makes it goopy!)
As a child explores goop, the adult can talk with them about touch.
What does it feel like? Cold? Hot? Wet?
You can also add little plastic animals (that can be easily washed), to help extend the play. Other options include: adding cups, bowls or anything they can scoop with. I enjoy using goop in the summer, adding plastic bugs, ants or other materials that match the season. It is also a great activity to do outside (on the grass, bucket of water as a hand washing station).
If goop is too messy for your taste, children enjoy anything with water. Get some soapy water, a bucket of non soapy water and have them wash all their plastic toys! Super fun for them, and helpful to you!
Messy activities allow children to get a little silly! It feels really cool, and is usually something they don’t get to do very often, which makes it even more exciting! Bring the activity outside too! That brings a different element to the experience and allows for easy clean up.
Every activity and experience for a child can be made mindful.
These messy activities seem like a whole lot of fun (which they are!) but they can also be very mindful. Just like all other mindfulness experiences with children, support them to focus on what they are doing in the present moment.
Ask questions, encourage them to take turns with the materials and share with other children (if other children are around), saying things such as “be mindful to keep the goop in the container” or “be mindful of others and take turns.”
They can also use descriptive words to describe the experience they are having. Encourage them to chat with you or others while they are exploring this messy activity, this refocuses the brain on the present moment and provides connection with others.
Want more sensory activities?
Check out our Sensory section of our website.
Visit Mindful Little Things for past blogs and other great tips for incorporating Mindfulness and Play Based learning in your classroom, home and in your daily life.