Gloop, foam, paint, water, glitter, sand, playdough, slime and clay are some of the ingredients available at Wairarapa Playcentres this month, as they invite children aged 0-6 to join the national Playcentre Messy Play Week.
The week-long initiative gives young children a chance to explore messy play activities, which are “essential for early childhood development”, Playcentre Aotearoa chief executive David Moger said.
“With opportunities to explore different sensory materials, young children learn about their world, discover new ways to express themselves and develop confidence in and control of their bodies, all while having loads of fun.”
Shirvana Edmonds, president of Martinborough Playcentre, agrees.
“It’s definitely a lot of textural sensation for the children and learning the way things can manoeuvre and work.”
The beauty of messy play is also its simplicity, Edmonds said.
“When you watch a child play with something as simple as ice and they see it melting in their hands, just their little minds ticking, you can see them processing, ‘oh, hang on a minute, this isn’t just a solid. It turns into a liquid’.”
Adelaide Skeet, parent volunteer at Westside Playcentre, also sees the benefits of messy play.
“The kids explore textures and the world around them,” she said. “They just kind of let themselves go.”
At Martinborough Playcentre “every week is messy play week”, Edmonds said.
The national initiative means messy play and its benefits can be the “main focus” of Playcentre activities, Skeet said.
Some parents and caregivers appreciate being able to offer messy play to their children at Playcentre without messing up their own house.
“We have a few mums that say, ‘it’s nice because I’m not left alone to clean up the mess while dealing with my children as well’,” Edmonds said.
“Instead, it’s a group effort to clean up the mess at Playcentre. A lot of parents are comfortable having messy play out of the house and going home to a clean house.”
It is going to be a “good, messy, fun week”, Skeet said.
Playcentre Messy Play Week runs from August 21-25. To find your local Playcentre and opening times, visit www.playcentre.org.nz