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Messy Play

It began by adding water to the dirt we had been exploring on the deck, joyfully dumping and laughing and splashing. Then K noticed how interesting the mud felt on her hands and began to spread it on her toes and feet.

As an educator I have had to learn to take a step back and allow children to fully explore their ideas, offering scaffolding and support where needed. Messy play is wonderful and necessary for learning, but it is one of the tougher types of play for educators to accept because it is ... well ... incredibly messy! However, she was fully engaged in her play, in her learning, and I was not going to interrupt her focus.

"Engagement suggests a state of being involved and focused. When children are able to explore the world around them with their natural curiosity and exuberance, they are fully engaged. Through this type of play and inquiry, they develop skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, and
innovating, which are essential for learning and success in school and beyond." (How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, page 9)

Her curiosity inspired baby A to paint his legs with the mud as well. (1.3 Parallel Play - ELECT. page 35)

The two little ones spent lots of time working with the mud, discovering what it felt like through exploration and sensory discrimination (5.3 Senses - ELECT page 42). I described what they were doing, giving them new vocabulary to apply to their own experiences as they played.

K was so excited to cover her legs with the paint she cried, "See! See!" (3.2 Expressive Language - ELECT page 38)

I wonder ...

  • Would the children enjoy the opportunity to explore clay outside? They could use their hands and toes to shape it or explore it in ways similar to their explorations of mud
  • How can I spark similar curiosity indoors? Should I add more sensory exploration experiences in the classroom such a play dough scented with lavender or coffee grounds to expand on their sensory play?
  • Would it be beneficial to add more containers to our outdoor learning environment so that the children can transport water/mud?
  • Should I add materials that they can paint on with mud? Tools for this creative activity such as paint brushes or sponges?
I'm excited to observe my little friends more so that I can continue to support them in following their interests and learning through exploratory play.


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