I don't remember where I saw it recommended; I think on a site for children's play or activities. It begins a letter to "mess", welcoming it into the home and introduction talking about the importance of play in early development and learning. It's not preachy, but rather is down-to-earth and practical, setting the tone for the book. There's a guide to which of the senses the different experiences engage and a quick guide to dealing with allergies, clean-up, and safety. There's also a guide to making natural food coloring. One of the things I appreciate about this title is that it's not hectoring - natural or store-bought, whatever works for your family. They're simply providing the tools for play.
The experiences are divided into "Indoor Play", "Outdoor Play" and "Takeaway Play". They range from actual recipes - yogurt paint, texture balloons, slime, and window painting to simple play suggestions like water play, garden soup, and a ribbon leash. Everything is simple, inexpensive, and the directions include not only notes on sensory interaction but set-up time, clean-up time, and mess factor!
Part of me is sad that we need a book like this - who would think parents need to be taught to let their child play by stirring up found items outdoors into "garden soup"? But with a growing generation of parents whose own parents had limited experience with free play, what may seem like "common sense" to those of us who grew up playing is no longer so simple. One of the things I really appreciated about this was that the mixture of recipes and suggestions for play means that it has a wide audience. The authors don't talk down to their audience, rather introducing their ideas with a mix of nostalgia and gentle advice on encouraging children to play and experience the world around them.
Verdict: I think this is going to be a must-have for my library and a strongly recommended title for other libraries. Depending on your community and programming needs, you'll have to decide whether it's better in the professional collection, juvenile, or adult nonfiction.
ISBN: 9781615192182; Published 2014 by The Experiment; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library