Messy Play Activity

There are many benefits of messy play, especially for babies, toddlers and young children. Messy play is a tactile experience that stimulates children’s senses and assists in the development of hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. Children learn about the effects of gravity, the behavior of liquid and solid objects by playing with different materials and begin to develop a sense of prediction ie action versus reaction. It doesn’t necessarily require language, so children of different ages, nationalities, development and those with special needs can play alongside each other and interact on the same level. Children are active learners and messy play makes it fun!

So what is messy play? There are a whole range of activities that fall into this category starting at the less messy end of the scale with options such as play dough, blowing bubbles or outdoor water painting with an old paint brush and a container of water.  But the fun really begins when you get out the slime, goop, spray bottles and finger painting!

These hands on activities provide children with the opportunity to explore different textures such as smooth, rough, soft and hard. Messy play taps into a child’s natural curiosity and there is no ‘right’ way for messy play it can help to build confidence and self esteem.

Parents are often hesitant to engage in messy play with their children, but the fun and benefits far outweigh the cleanup.

Learning And Development Through Visual Arts

Children love activities like finger-painting, pasting, colouring pictures, and folding or ripping paper. These activities might be a bit messy, but they’re good at helping your child:

  • get used to new textures, such as the feeling of paint
  • learn how paint and paper move, and what they can do with them
  • develop all kinds of fine motor skills, as they user their fingers, feet and so on
  • express their thoughts, experiences or ideas

At this age, children are still learning about shapes and lines, and ways of drawing and playing with them. A painting might look like spaghetti to you, but if it’s a tree to your child, it’s a tree!

Whether your child ends up with a finished product isn’t important. The most important thing is for him to explore his creative impulses and self-expression.

Hand Stencils

Hand stencils are thousands of years old and very common in Southern and Eastern Australia.

Aboriginal people put a mixture of ochre, water and animal fat (sourced from emu, kangaroo or echidna) into their mouth and blew it across their hand which rested on a rock surface. The ochre chemically reacted with and sunk into the surface of the rock just like ink does into paper.

Some stencils were left to mark a nation’s territory or a hierarchy of importance.

The higher up a hand stencil on the rock, and the more of the wrist and arm appeared, the more important the person was.

Source: Aboriginal rock art – Creative Spirits, retrieved from

Red Hands Cave, Blue Mountains National Park.
Photo: Steve Alton/NSW Government
Red Hands Cave, Blue Mountains National Park.
Photo: Steve Alton/NSW Government

How Did Shine Bright Create It’s Paint?

Our spray paint was created by mixing water and poster paint in a spray bottle. This means the activity is easy to recreate at home and washes off in warm water.

Great For The Environment

Our entire activity was made from sustainable materials. All of the supplies used on the day can be recycled, composted or reused!

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