April showers bring May flowers…and MUD!
Spring is here and underneath all that melted snow is wonderful mud. Now before you pull out the wet wipes, hear us out. Mud is a severely underappreciated educational resource. Mud play is a great way to get kids outdoors and is perfect for dramatic play.
Yes, they’re going to get dirty, but throw them in some old clothes and let your children loose. Encountering bacteria is actually good for our immune systems, plus mud has plenty of healthy minerals too!
To combat mud’s bad reputation, Australian educators founded International Mud Day. On June 29, introduce children to the fun of a mud kitchen. Build sculptures and mud cakes, teaching children how adding water or more dirt affects the consistency.
Use Mud Kitchen Activity Cards for muddy inspiration! From Gruffalo stew to a seafood platter to the classic mud pie, recipes are fun to recreate. Encourage children to forage for ingredients and present problem-solving opportunities if they have to substitute an ingredient. No acorns in your yard? Ask your children what they can use instead. Develop math skills by measuring ingredients and counting out how many of each you need. You can even introduce multiplication or fractions by doubling or halving a recipe.
Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled a list of tips to make mud fun!
Tip 1 – Pick a Mud Play Area
Providing a designated area for mud play will contain the mess and save your yard from dogged mud artists. The perfect way to do this is to build a mud kitchen. A mud kitchen incorporates all the benefits of kitchen play with the fun of playing with mud.
A mud kitchen can be anything your child imagines, but we recommend The Outdoor Farmhouse Sink. This kid-sized sink makes water accessible for easy clean ups and mud making and has a wide work area for masterpieces to be built. The white sink liner is removable, and the lower shelf is a great place to store backyard toys. The wood is treated so it won’t rot, plus the edges and corners are sanded down for safety. You can even add an additional two shelves with the Hutch for more storage.
Tip 2 – Use Tools
While children are likely to have fun squishing the mud around their fingers, introducing toys and tools takes the fun to a whole other level. Many of the toys used for sand and water activities make excellent mud tools. Use sand shovels to dig, pails for foraging, sifters for finding rocks and whatever else their imagination can cook up.
To keep the mess outside, use the Lil Gusher for a portable water system. Children pump the water by hand so there is no water hook up necessary.
If you’re stuck for storage space, nesting bowls are a great way to go! The Rustic Bowls are perfect for mixing and “cooking” in the mud kitchen. And they’re pretty enough that children can display their collections or a culinary masterpiece in them. Rustic Pourers are a teardrop shape, making them perfect for pouring liquids and solids. Children can pour from the little ones to the bigger ones to see how containers hold different volumes.
Tip 3 – Make it smaller to keep it cleaner
If the thought of a mud-soaked child sounds immensely unappealing, you can still offer the benefits of mud play in a more contained way. Scale it down by making a homemade mud pit using a kiddie pool or contain it even further by using Sand & Water Activity Tubs.
Tubs are a great alternative because you still promote exploration and a little bit of mess, but the cleanup is as simple as dumping the contents and cleaning the tub. To battle splashes or spills from the tub, use Mess’n Play Splash Mats. Washable Smocks keep clothing clean too!
Tip 4 – Have fun with it!
Mud play is meant to be a time to be a little wild and let loose. We spend so much time trying to keep children clean, mud play is a great way to let them unleash their messier sides. You’ll be amazed by how excited your child will be, stomping through the mud making footprints and splashing in puddles.
Just have a hose handy before they head into the house or back into daycare!