Is the mess worth it???…..Absolutely yes!!!
Did you know that children’s exposure to messy or sensory play is declining. Currently, children spend less time outdoors and more time inside consumed by electronics. However, research suggests that messy play is essential to development, helping to build neural connections that support fine motor and gross motor skills, language development, cognitive growth, and social interaction.
As an occupational therapist, messy play can offer many benefits. Activities such as splashing in puddles, pouring and shoveling sand, and even dumping your pots and pans all over the kitchen floor are necessary! They help build strength in the upper extremities that then enable the hands and fingers to make more controlled movements as children develop. Hiding small objects in playdough, finger painting, and drawing in foam help develop hand-eye coordination and refine fine motor skills that are important for writing and manipulating fasteners on clothing. Squishing and squeezing new or unfamiliar textures provide tactile input that assists with toleration of activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming, and sensitivity to touch from others or the feel of clothing.
The benefits of sensory play are endless, so next time you go and reach for that broom, sit back relax and enjoy the mess!