Mud, wonderful mud!
It is often said that Mother Nature is our third teacher. Spending time outdoors and in nature means fresh air, sunlight and exercise. In fact, the outdoors can teach us some of the most important things we’ll ever need to know about life and how to be truly happy. It puts our senses back in order.
Each year on 29 June, children around the world are invited to get dirty! International Mud Day is a day to abandon cleanliness and celebrate two very simple ingredients – dirt and water – and all the joy and learning that can come from getting dirty!
Ever noticed how your child is drawn to mud? Whether it’s stomping in a muddy puddle after the rain, digging holes, making a mud pie and mixing in all sorts of things … the icky, sticky, gooey, oozy joy of playing with dirt and water is a rite of passage in childhood.
You don’t need to wait for it to rain to have fun in the mud. You can create a simple and low cost mud experience at home using a blow up pool. Pop in some dirt and ask your child to help fill it with water so they can see how the mud is formed. Add some safe kitchen utensils and containers to experiment with mixing, digging up hidden objects, shaping a mud pie and stirring in some ingredients. And be sure to dress for mess!
Benefits of mud play
Children can build literacy and numeracy skills as they play:
Communication skills - through talking with others in their play, describing mud, how it moves, the amounts they are using, what they are making. What will they mix with it?
Social skills – through sharing, turn-taking and negotiating as children play alongside others in the mud
Risk taking – through trial and error, problem solving and working out for themselves how to play safely
Decision making - learning and testing theories. How much water do I need to make my mud thicker or thinner?
Stimulating the senses – through the various temperatures and textures of dirt. Notice the way the dirt smells when it rains?
Enquiry and creation - the open-ended nature of mud play is perfect for stimulating creativity and invention. Children become resourceful, using found objects like sticks, pebbles, leaves and flowers as ingredients for a mud cake.
Water and dirt are the key ingredients to vibrant vegetable gardens and beautiful flowerbeds. So, take some time to talk about how the nutrients in the soil feed the plants and bugs, and how they work together to make the fruit and vegetables that we eat.
This Mud Day, give your child permission to get dirty, make a mud pie and spend some quality time together.
Muddy titles to share:
- Up and Down on a Rainy Day by Kathryn Apel
- The Cow that Swam out to Sea by Pamela Rushby
- I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian
- Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
- Mud! by Annie Bailey
- Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch
- Happy as a Hog out of Mud by Sean E Avery
- The Little Yellow Digger by Betty Gilderdale
Visit your local public library online or in person to borrow these and other great titles that inspire fun in the mud.