Mud. There’s nothing gimmicky or fancy about it, and that’s kind of the point. For many people, their favorite memories of childhood playtime involve dirt, water, and the freedom to create endlessly.
Even better, turns out mud play is beneficial to development as well as fun.
Takes A Bite Out Of Stress
Considering the mess that ensues, you may wonder why we should let kids play in mud. Well, for one thing, it lowers stress levels. There’s something about getting in the oozing sludge and manipulating it that chills kids right on out. Being outdoors for open-ended unstructured playtime is also good for emotional health.
Strengthens The Body
In today’s hygienic society, bacteria’s a bad word. However, there’s such a thing as good bacteria, and that’s the kind that we can pick up from suitable patches of mud. This kind of bacteria helps our bodies become stronger and more resistant to the bad stuff, particularly when it comes to allergies and asthma. So, mud play is a way to expose your little one to the “helpful” germs.
What Are Some Mud Play Activities?
We’ve extolled the benefits of being outdoors, but you can also set up your child indoors in the bathtub or on a porch. Just grab a bucket or bowl and some soil, perhaps from your local garden center.
One fun activity involves mud trucks for kids. Mud and toy trucks are a natural, magical combination. The trucks can be used to make tracks, haul and dump stuff, bulldoze, and rumble over the muddy ground.
All you need with this activity — best suited for kids up to age 5 — are some spare toy trucks or cars, water, buckets, and soapy water. Gather everything and bring it outside.
Prime the kids’ enthusiasm and imagination with a few questions: “Have your trucks ever played outside?” “What will happen if we use the trucks in the mud and on rocks?” “What could we move or build out here?”
Get the vehicles in the mud you made, as well as in the dirt and other elements. Fill a dump truck, dig up ground with the excavator, and climb over rocks. And don’t forget to make noises while you’re at it: Rev the engine and screech during turns, and “beep” when you back up.
By now the kids will have caught on and you can pull back. Start asking questions to foster more exploration. For extended play, you can drag a stick along the ground to create bridges, or perhaps make a river or moat.
For the best activity finish ever, create a car wash! Make sure you use a sudsy but nontoxic soap, and a large container can serve as the structure. It will be fun to get the trucks all soapy, and if some of the lather reaches the kids, well that’s fun too.
Activities with mud play are pretty much endless. Other ideas include molding mud into pretend cookies, making mud bricks for a dollhouse or fort, painting and writing with mud, and throwing mud balls against a wall or cardboard target.
Squishing, digging, or pushing mud around gives kids a chance to connect with the natural world around them and develop tactile skills. Sunlight, fresh air, and exercise are great motivators. Mud play also does wonders for creativity and imagination and boosts independent learning as well as teamwork. What’s more, it can help kids develop problem-solving skills.
Now that you know why we should let kids play in the mud — it’s fun and beneficial — encourage your child to do it as often as possible. They’ll be so happy … and they’ll even help clean up the mess!