Should I allow my child to play with their food?

I love play.. symbolic, pretend, role-play, parallel, collaborative etc.. the list is endless and so is the fun! I love what play does to develop a child's imagination, engagement, team-work skills, coping, sensory processing, motor skills, problem-solving, decision-making, emotional maturity, social skills etc.. the list is once again endless. 


Today, I am going to talk about the importance of messy play. Not every adult or child is comfortable with this kind of play but it can be vitally important for your child's development so embrace it!

Children learn through play and exploring. Messy play is just one aspect. However, some children don’t like touching new textures or mess. You should never force your child into touching things that they don’t want too. Instead give your child opportunities to explore a variety of textures in their own time.

For example - water play - introduce some bubbles or paint in the water so the water turns a different colour. You can have some blobs of paint in the water that your child picks up. You can put different objects in the water such as toys, cooked or dry pasta, shaving foam, sequins etc. Try different textures objects that are around the house/school.

Some more fun ideas include:

Water play: add bubbles, toys, paint, shaving foam, sand, glitter, sequins, dry and cooked pasta, jelly.

Sand play: start with using a spade, bucket, container, cars and gently encourage them to touch the sand with their hands. You can also add water, glitter, paint.

Feeling different textured materials – use large and small sheets of material, line a box, different textured bags, toys and objects. Place them in different positions for example lying on them on the floor, on the table, on the wall. Ideas: textured cardboard, shiny paper, fur, velvet, cord, wool, sand paper, sequins, pasta/rice stuck on card or loose, spiky/soft brushes, cotton wool, crepe paper, feathers, pot scourers, sponges, leaves.

Feeling messy stuff: Place it in a bowl or on the table, put toys in it for example a car, doll, containers.

If your child is likely to put things in their mouth, start with food which they can put in their mouth if they want, for example cooked pasta/rice/lentils, ice, jelly, custard, cornflour and water, ice cream, yogurt, fruit, cooked vegetables and fruit, pastry.

If they don’t put things in their mouth, for example hand/body cream, shaving foam, sand, glitter, paint, play-dough.

Making a collage, sticking different textures, for example paper, tissue paper, crepe paper, leaves, textured card, sequins, glitter, sand, pom-pom’s, cotton wool, feathers.

Painting with hands (and feet), add sand/glitter to the paint. Start with using a brush/roller if your child doesn’t want to touch the paint.



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