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messy play

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by raine117, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. hi all, I work in a children's centre and am currently running messy play sessions. I have a whole range of children from under 1's to 4yrs to cater for and I've been trying to find some kind of health and safety guidelines for the little ones eg what food stuffs is safe for them to play with etc. Also- home made playdough contains a lot of salt-is this ok? etc Does anyone know of a site or a resource I can use or could I pick you brains as i think I'm getting a little bit paranoid at the mo!

    many thanks
  2. lizzii_2008

    lizzii_2008 New commenter

    They're not going to be eating the dough are they lol so I guess the amount of salt shouldn't matter. I use home made dough in school and I haven't been told otherwise.
    I don't know of any health and safety guidelines with regards to messy play but I just wanted to suggest the use of Cloud Dough (flour and baby oil) and apparently feels like sand texture. I'm going to try it out tomorrow!
  3. Let me know how you got on! Hoping to try this with lavender baby oil and flour.
  4. Hi, I have worked with practitioners developing messy play sessions and the main consideration is that the food is non toxic and the children are supervised at all times. You could risk assess your activities to reassure yourself. Ask parents about allergies and of course avoid nut products. Some practitioners try to discourage young children from tasting the food, yet others don't mind. I usually allow children to taste as they will soon find out if they like it and they are not going to come to any harm. It's a no pressure activity for children who are fussy eaters.

    I think you need to consider messy play in the same way as any other activity. Is it age /stage appropriate? Do the children have the chance to explore in their own way? Is it presented in different ways so children who are reluctant can explore on a smaller scale ( large sand . water tray and small dish or littler tray.) Is it communal such as in a water tray, or individual as in using a small tray or even something smaller. Also, can children use tools such as sticks and spoons if they wish? I always role model using my hands but some children prefer to start with a spoon or pot. Pots

    The language you use is also important, and your gestures will influence the children's responses. Using salty play dough is different to adding salt to children's meals. They will taste it and will likely spit it out.
    I have used raw onions, cabbages, couliflower, broccoli and cooked mixed veg, spaghetti, both tinned and fresh, mashed potato, custard, play dough with curry powder, lavender, garlic, mixed spice, the possibilities are endless.

    I would probably use softer foods for under ones, perhaps not hard tube pasta if it is considered a choking hazard.
    The benefits of messy play and messy food play far outweigh the drawbacks. I wish you lots of fun and mess !!!

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