The benefits of children exploring mud:
At Little Crickets, we strongly promote messy play by providing children with the opportunity toexplore various textures, mud being one of them! Playing with mud is great for sensory play and in turn perfect for children’s learning and development. Most children love to feel the mud as they squeeze it through their fingers or jump in muddy puddles. At Little Crickets we want to provide children with the opportunity and the freedom to enjoy getting messy from head to toe! Mud is fantastic for play as it can be explored in many ways. For example wet, dry, in paint, ect.
In turn, this could help develop children vocabulary as they are introduced to words such as ‘squishy, wet, and crumbly…’ depending on which form the mud is presented to them. We encourage the children to think about how they would describe what they have made. Most common describing words I have heard from the children through their play include ‘yucky, delicious, smelly, ect’ Mud kitchens are becoming increasingly popular in early years settings and is a great way to encourage creativity and imaginative play. At Little Crickets, children love making mud pies in the outdoor mud kitchen. Thanks to the parents that donated, the children enjoy using the wooden spoons, pots and pans and recognising real items from home. Children use their imaginations by transferring natural resources into their play (such as leaves, sticks, stones) and pretending these items represent something else. For example, the stone representing ‘sugar’ for their cake. Mud Kitchens also create a fantastic opportunity for children to build relationships with their peers.
On many occasions, I have heard children inviting each other to taste the cupcake they have made or inviting them to their tea party! Similarly, these role-play scenarios are also a great way for children to practice conversations. For instance, knowing when to pause and taking turns to listen and respond to their peers. Another reason, why we think mud is great is because it allows children to get close to nature. Activities such as planting a seed in the soil and watching it grow helps to develop children’s understand on the importance of taking care of the earth and seeing the wonders that the earth can provide us with. A few studies have also shown that introducing mud to children through play can help to develop and strengthen children’s immune systems as the soil carries specific bacteria called ‘Mycobacterium Vaccae’. It has been quoted by Victoria Hackett that this bacteria ‘increases the serotonin in our brains’. As well as it being good for our immune systems, it is also believed to be beneficial for our mental health. Children like adults have discovered that mud can be very therapeutic. Some adults seek mud treatments in the spas; the same effect is believed to be experienced by children when they explore mud through play.
Below I have outlined possible activities you may want to explore at home:
1. Moistening mud with water to create mud sculptures. This is great for developing children fine/ gross motor skills and also for encouraging children to use their imaginations. 2. Making a mud bath by digging a hole and putting lots of water. You can develop a ‘small world area’ by adding farm animals to the mud or creating a mud swamp by adding twigs, branches and dinosaurs. If you’re feeling really adventurous why not make an actual mud bath and allow children to dip their feet into the bath they have created. 3. Making mud potions/ mud soups- using swigs as spoons and petals from flours. Can even sprinkle some ‘magical’ glitter. 4. Making hand prints 5. Building a tower- using stones and pretending they are bricks and using the mud as cement 6. Jumping in muddy puddles and making mud footprints If you have any other ideas, please do share. We would love to see pictures from home of children playing with mud!