June 3, 2011

Play: This could get messy!

One of our favorite things to do at Play & Learn is to provide materials such as paint or shaving cream for children and their caregivers to explore. Some children recognize the material and dive right in, burying their hands up to the wrists or elbows, drawing, writing, or otherwise spreading the joy. For many children these are new experiences. At first they are tentative, watch the other children, perhaps wait for mom or grandpa to try it first. A few decide that they don't like the feel or the mess, but more often than not they choose to linger as long as time and space allow.

Ordinary paint can go a long way. But we also use home-made recipes like salt paint, puffy paint, or "goop." If you would like to try these at home, you might check library resources such as The Ultimate Book of Kids Concoctions, by John Thomas and Danita Page, or Pam Schiller's resource book series.

What about the mess? We provide smocks to (mostly) protect children's clothing, cover the floor when an outdoor space is not available, and generally expect that there will be some clean-up involved during and after the session. Meanwhile, the children and their grown-ups get to use their senses, build some vocabulary as they talk about what they are doing, practice their motor skills, and have a good time. We think it's worth it!

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