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Amanda Seyderhelm, play and art therapist from the UK, shares with us her views on Messy Play and how it can easily fit into your home.

Scribbleshop Inspirations
How to set up Messy Play at Home


Recently the Duchess of Cambridge revealed that she had introduced Prince George to messy play. She is Patron of The Art Room that offers art therapy to children to increase their self-esteem.

Parents often find the idea of messy play uncomfortable. They imagine their child wrecking their living room or kitchen, and general chaos abounding. If messy play is set up correctly, with boundaries and 1 rule, you will be giving your child the maximum range to explore paint, clay, beads through their hands and feet.

Here are my suggestions for setting up clean messy play at home:

1.  Designate an area in your house for the messy play:  a floor space is ideal.
2.  Cover that floor space with a thick plastic cover (a crafting table cloth is suitable).
3.  Place all the messy play equipment in the middle of the plastic cover.
4.  Rule 1:  Tell your child that the edges of the plastic cover are their boundaries, the messy play must stay within those boundaries.
5.  Within those boundaries they can do whatever they like! Squeeze the paints through their hands and feet, create paintings with their feet ...

I led a project at a special needs school in London, where I introduced messy play to children who sat in wheelchairs for most of the day. We lifted the children out of their wheelchairs and introduced them to touching the paint with their hands and feet. Being able to touch paint with their bodies, and create paintings without brushes was liberating for them, and helped them to find their own voices. Some children laughed out loud, some of them sat quietly just touching the paints, some were daring and rolled around in the paint. The week after I left the school, one teacher emailed me to say that the children had all become very restless at the time they would have been having their messy play session. They rocked back and forth in their wheelchairs. At first she didn't understand why, and then she remembered their messy play, and realised that they were missing it. The rocking back and forth was their way of expressing this.

It's within the 'mess' that the child will find a connection with her own feelings. If you can set this up for her, and then step back just far enough so she can dive into her play, you will be giving her a valuable gift.

I hope this will inspire you to introduce your child to messy play.

- Amanda Seyderhelm

Learn more about Amanda Seyderhelm in her Scribble Artist Interview on the Scribble Blog!

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