Sticking your hands and feet into mud or jumping around in your gum boots are some of the best memories of childhood.
Mud play is not just fun, it is sensory play where children explore textures, temperatures and sensations on their skin which helps them develop sensory processing and increased sensory awareness. It can be soothing, calming, grounding and relaxing for their nervous system.
Slimy, sticky sensations on bare skin can also be challenging for children and exposure to these new sensations helps them develop resilience, self-confidence and emotional regulation.
Mud Play helps to develop sensory processing and awareness
Mud play stimulates creativity and imagination. The worlds that can be created are open-ended and children become fully absorbed in uninterrupted, timeless play. Mud play encourages self-led exploration as well as team work.
Children naturally come together to work on projects and create environments. Learning to take turns, share and make decisions together helps to develop social, emotional and communication skills.
Mudplay stimulates creativity and imagination
Interaction with dirt boosts the immune system by exposing children to diverse bacteria. Children also find creatures that live in the mud and learn about the living environment around them. They develop empathy, care and naturalist knowledge.
Mud play encourages fine and gross motor skill development, strength and balance, as children are physically active, squatting, jumping, lifting, dragging, pouring and stirring.
Five ideas for your own mud kitchen
1. Take off your shoes or clothes and squeal in delight at the squishiness and sliminess. You can rub the mud all over your arms, legs, body or paint your face.
2. Put old pots, pans and baking and baking tins in the mud kitchen and start to make mud pies, cakes and soups and “bake” them in your imaginary “oven” (logs or rocks make a great oven.
3. Young kids love stirring the mud with sticks, like they are cooking. They like jumping into mud with bare feet or gumboots on to make a splash.
4. Some children come to bush school wearing a custom made “mud suit” and will sit down in the middle of a big puddle of mud and play in it.
5. Our mud kitchen has quite a clay-like colour and consistency. We have used it as a natural dye to tie-dye t-shirts, which works amazingly well. The children then proudly wear their tie-dyed mud kitchen t-shirt to bush school each week like a uniform.
Go out and have fun in the mud or join our Bush School Centennial Parklands or Seedlings Nature School Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and Seedlings Nature School Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan that will start again from 20 July.