As a nursery worker, I am always getting dirty some way or another, whether it be paint, play dough or other creative materials. However, I have to say that the most loved creative activity is free and always available…MUD!! Children just love the stuff!! From aged 1-5, children gravitate towards the ‘mud kitchen’ and always find the biggest mud puddle in the entire garden. Here are 5 reasons, why you should allow children to get messy and have fun in mud play…
1. Mud is an open-ended resource. Children are naturally imaginative and can come up with 100 ways to use and play with mud. Some examples I have experienced recently are ‘cement’, ‘chocolate chips’, ‘a beehive’ and ‘squelchy soup’. Allowing children the freedom to play in this way and build on their imagination enhances their thinking and abilities to problem solve.
2. It brings children closer to nature. With the ever-increasing focus on ‘school-readiness’ and ‘book-learning’, it is important that children experience the world around them. Children learn by doing, therefore let them ‘do’. Let them learn about nature and their environment through playing.
3. Recent studies have shown that playing with mud and getting ‘dirty’ can help to build the immune system. Exposing children to controlled amounts of bacteria is actually beneficial to their health as it helps trigger the immune system into responding. Children are far too restricted in a world that’s ‘clean obsessive’.
4. Mud play can meet the physical, emotional and developmental needs of ALL children. Any child can play with mud, at any age, in any place and with any needs. It is a all-inclusive resource with endless possibilities.
5. Every aspect of holistic learning can be incorporated into mud play. Children will love using their physical skills to stomp in the puddles, whilst learning social skills as they cook up secret batches of ‘potion’. There is no ‘wrong’ way to play, so the child can build their self-confidence as well as learning descriptive language, such as ‘sticky’, ‘thick’ and ‘sloppy’.
Children are drawn to mud, as if it were an instinctive response. As long as it’s appropriately supervised (so they’re not drinking mud milkshakes) mud play is every bit as beneficial as any other creative activity. If you have any mud play ideas or photo’s of mud play, send them in to me.