Getting messy

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By Gillian Ravenscroft

The ‘Messy Tray’ station is an established area of many an EYFS classroom. As such, ideas for messy activities have developed and evolved over the years, resulting in extensive lists of suitable products, materials and tools. The challenge for all EYFS practitioners however, is to incorporate the explorative aspects of messy play with activities that drive learning forward.

Messy paint girl

The DfE Early Years Foundation Stage framework sets out a number of expectations which are key to best practice in this domain. In The areas of learning and development, it states:

1.9. In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice. Three characteristics of effective teaching and learning are:
  • playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
  • active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
  • creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
In the specific areas of The early learning goals section; the expectation for Expressive art and design is that when Exploring and using media and materials:
  • …They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.
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