Oh the joys of mud!
Here at Kids Count Pukekohe we spotted some of our children playing in the environment as the rain left some great muddy puddles. The children explored the mud puddles and dirt as a part of their play, mixing soil, water, and other natural materials like pebbles and leaves with utensils of interest providing the children with endless possibilities for learning and fun.
Many of us have fond memories of creating mud pies, digging for worms, or making streams and valleys in the mud. But it's not just about fun. Children benefit from messy, muddy play.
The Benefits of muddy play offers a valuable experience as children learn to engage in the natural world through the manipulation of a range of materials during rich play encounters and through sensorial experimentation. Getting dirty and becoming curious are just a few of the wonderful muddy play experiences that influence how children approach muddy play as well as a great way to link spaces and relationships that have influenced children's thoughts and actions.
Mud play is inclusive of all children. It allows children to play at their own developmental level. Mud is an open ended material that meets the diverse needs and interests of different children. Younger children might focus on the sensory experience whereas older children may have more specific goals in mind for their mud play. Some children may thoroughly enjoy the sensation of mud between their toes while others are only comfortable poking a finger into the mud. Allowing children to explore the mud at their own comfort level. With mud, there is something for everyone and there are no wrong answers.
Playing in the mud inspires children to feel a connection to nature and develop an appreciation for the environment. By providing time outdoors and the chance for muddy, messy play, you facilitate a love of the earth. Muddy kids are leaders – experimenting and trying new things, being adventurous and thinking about what is happening while playing in the mud builds character, encouraging kids to think beyond the square and develop confidence in themselves.
As we discovered today at Kids Count Pukekohe whilst we watched and observed the children playing. Maybe the greatest benefit of mud play is the squelchy blobby stuff that sneaks between your toes and that magical thing which can create all sorts of imaginary play. It is the memories being created by the children, the joy on their faces as they became wet and dirty, the fun and laughter as they built relationships and explored nature at its finest. What fabulous childhood memories our Tamariki made today with and alongside each other.
The open-mindedness of mud is well suited to supporting children's thinking.
It's actually healthy for kids to get muddy!
In short, playing in mud is fun and makes you happier!
Simple Mud Play Ideas for you to try at home Whanau
So what can you do to provide opportunities for children to play in the mud? It can be as simple as allowing children to explore a muddy puddle. But if you are up for it, there are many ways you can implement a variety of mud-related play activities. Here are some ideas:
Paint with mud–provide different types of soil to create different shades of "paint". Or you can add food coloring or tempera paint to watery mud for more vibrant colors.
Make mud sculptures–encourage children to sculpt and mold mud, adding pebbles, twigs, or leaves to individualize their sculptures.
Build with mud–use mud as a mortar to build with stones, sticks, or even real bricks.
Construct roadways and waterways—add toy dump trucks, excavators, and back hoes to build roadways in the dirt. Provide cars and trucks to add to the play. Offer pieces of PVC pipe to build waterways and pipelines.
Create animal homes—add plastic animals or dinosaurs to the mud area and have children add leaves, sticks, and stones to create a forest, jungle, or even Jurassic Park!
Throw mud balls–facilitate large muscle play by encouraging children to throw mud balls at an identified target (a large sheet hung on a fence works well).
Give it a try Whanau and build leaders and memories.