The Benefits of Messy Play for Children

At our day nursery in Nottingham, we encourage our children to get messy and learn through play! There are several benefits of messy play, such as supporting a child’s development and fostering curiosity. Read more to find out why we love messy play…

Messy Play Fosters Curiosity, Imagination and Exploration…

When setting up activities for children to play with, not only do you want them to look inviting so that children get excited to come and explore, but we also want the children to be able to use their curious imaginations to find their own way of doing things, embodying the essence of the curiosity approach. This could be using their body parts to paint with or natural objects from around the room/outdoors.

We often take the children on walks during the half term to the woods and bring paper and other tools with us. The children absolutely love to do mud paintings or use their own creative ideas, such as collecting leaves, etc., to stick. It’s so nice to be able to give the children opportunities like this, as not all nurseries can do this. This is one of the benefits of living so close to Bulwell Hall Park, Pirate Park and Mill Lake, which isn’t too far. Lots of different places for the children to visit and get messy!

Messy play only begins with activities such as painting, water play, sand, chalk, play dough, and many more. It gives children a sensory experience and helps them understand their senses. This type of play nurtures awareness and understanding of the world surrounding them by exploring how things feel, smell, and taste.

Messy Play Supports The Child’s Development…

Not only does messy play help with the children’s imaginations, but it also helps support their communication and language, promotes physical development, practices good concentration, and nurtures future skills; it supports the ability to play independently. You can cover so many areas of a child’s development with one simple activity, and they are having fun while doing so.

bo_hh10Messy play is a sociable activity, whether with family or other children, so naturally, it will enrich relationships through social interaction. Furthermore, as young children can’t explain things verbally, it allows them to share their discoveries in different ways through the use of objects and gestures. In order to do this, they need to think through their actions so they can communicate this explanation, which also helps develop their cognition.

It Is Easy To Adapt…

Messy play is good for children of any age and can be adapted in many ways. For example, if you have a child that doesn’t enjoy being sat down at the table to do activities, take out a tuff tray, put it on the floor and fill it up with bubbles, cars, cooked pasta, sand or anything of interest. This way, you’re giving the child more space to move around freely, enabling them to stay at the activity for a longer period of time. You can even take it outside and use the garden to do leaf rubbings, car washes or use the mud kitchen; the possibilities are endless.

Why Messy Play And Sensory Play Are Important:

Playing IS learning for young children. Playing is their job!

Toys are fun but can be restrictive because they have a specific intended use or function. Although toys are good for exploring certain skills, messy and sensory play with open-ended materials like rice, slime, or play dough, helps children learn to play independently, increases attention span, provides opportunities to problem solve and builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Plus, your kids will learn and use real-life skills such as measuring, pouring, experimenting, etc.


So here at our Nottingham nursery, Angels by Day, we love to learn through our play, and what better way to do this than by getting messy at the same time! We do all sorts of fun, messy activities with the children, ranging from simple tabletop activities to going all out and getting messy in our mud kitchen!

We provide mud suits and wellies for this, which the children love to get dressed in. The mud kitchen is one of our most used spaces when playing outdoors; we love enabling the children to get messy and use their wonderful imaginations to bake mud pies or role-play mums and dads with their friends! The conversation that comes out of it is fantastic! We have tuff trays, water trays, and sand trays for activities inside, which can be used both on the floor and on the tables. We always give our children the opportunity to be creative and get messy!

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