Creating fun, family friendly events in Edmonton & area

Messy Play - Guest post from Live It All In's Mercedes Bender

Messy Play has a bad wrap. It’s the word that when heard, kids say “yay!” and parents say “no way!” Uninterrupted self-guided messy play is one of the finest forms of play that you can offer your child.

As human beings, we are born wanting to explore, while keeping our parents close by for comfort. We yearn for messy play that involves using all 5 senses. Kangaroo Care (skin to skin contact) and playing with our food as a baby are some of the first signs of this need to explore and learn using our senses. Then nature vs. nurture takes over and some opportunities to play are out of our control.  That’s where us as parents come in and how we handle messy and sensory play can really have an impact on our child’s future development and capacity to engage in different environments.

What are the benefits to uninterrupted child-lead messy play and sensory play? It is through this type of play that a child learns to:

·         Explore on their own

·         Engage in their surroundings in ways they are comfortable with and not comfortable with

·         Build

·         Communicate in a variety of ways with a variety of people

·         Build self-confidence- When a child explores, attempts, fails, and recreates to succeed all on their own, their self-confidence increases exponentially.

·         Master skills

·         Create

·         Learn

·         Gain self-awareness

As parents, it can be difficult for us to let go and to let our child(ren) guide their own play. If we seriously limit the degree of mess created, amount of time spent outdoors, certain activities because someone might get hurt (like scissor practice), and textures around us, we might feel less stressed and anxious, however our children are the ones who will struggle with the effects once they enter the school ages. It is a common complaint from early years teachers (from kindergarten on) that many children entering their classrooms haven’t been allowed to get “messy” and they’re afraid of different textures. They’re also lacking in the fine motor skills department because with messy play comes find motor skills development with activities like cutting and gluing for example. We don’t intentionally want this for our children, however it’s important that we are aware of the effects that our fears of sensory play many have on our children in the future.

Messy factor can be offered on a sliding scale and every little bit counts. For ideas on activities to do with your child(ren) that involve sensory play and age-appropriate development, you can head on over to the ‘live it ALL IN’ blog (,  Facebook page ( or Instagram profile ( The rewards that come of watching your child(ren) develop through uninterrupted sensory play are worth the effort- I promise!   

***Mercedes from Live It All In will be the guest at April's Super Kids at St. Albert Centre from 9-11am on April 27th. This is a great opportunity to ask questions or talk about how you can bring messy play into your home. It is also a great way to let the kids play and explore with messy play where you don't have to set up or clean up!***