One of my constant problem in the classroom is encouraging children to get dirty with paint, glue, glitters and other art materials. I say it is a problem because it DOES affect how willing they are do arts and crafts and other activities that would involve paint (especially paint) and other materials that will leave a temporary mark on their hands.

Working with children can be very messy. In fact it is suppose to be messy. Why?! Because they are exploring and learning through their senses. They need to feel how sticky a glue can be, they need to experience having some difficulty getting rid of glitters on their hands and arms and they need to see the vibrant colors in their hands because of colored markers and paint. Let them get dirty. It will help them learn more.


Most of the children in my class would opt to not use paint whenever they can. Just a single tiny drop of paint in their hand would make them want to run to the sink and wash their hands..IMMEDIATELY! I already have a standard line in class: “It’s okay if your hands will get dirty. You can wash it after you are finished.” Trust me, I say this every week in the class. Literally every week!

I understand that cleaning up is hard so parents at home would like to lessen the mess. I hear you, it’s not that easy. BUT there is learning there. Children learn how to problem solve and would eventually make little mess while working. Children get to practice using their senses while working and in early childhood learning through senses is IMPORTANT because it gives them a better understanding of the world around them. If it’s not messy then it’s probably an adult working.

I am OC myself most of the time. But when it comes to children, I forget about that. I let them correct their work so many times that their paper looks dirty already from the pencil marks. The point is not about being clean all the time especially when it comes to children’s work. It’s about trial and error which helps them learn from their experience – their first hand experience.

So please let them get dirty! It’s fun and educational. Plus, they can always clean themselves afterwards. So relax and let them have fun.