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This activity is featured in our June Activity Calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy of the calendar, get it here.
- Prepare yourself for mud play: We get it. Messy mud play is not always a grown up's dream. No matter how you and your kids feel about mud, you can still get all the goodness. It's just a matter of finding out your way to do mud play. Watch this humorous video from our Just Between Us Grown-Ups series about how to make mud play work on your terms. Once you've picked a time and a place that works for you, follow the steps below.
- Pack a few materials: Unless you’re near a water source, you’ll need to bring it with you. We like to have around ½ a gallon of water per kid so they can play and experiment for a while (less if it's rained recently). Bring a small pail or container for each child so they can transport and pour water as they see fit.
- Clear your spot: If you’re in a high-traffic area, check to make sure that there are no obvious hazards (e.g., broken glass, metal, dog doo, trash) where you’ll be making your mud. As you scan the ground, grab some sticks for stirring and mushing mud. If it's dry, rough up the earth a bit so water collects and the soil is easier to work with.
- Pour a little water. Then, let them do the pouring: Trickle a small amount of water on the ground, and discover together what happens to the dirt. You can take a stick and even do a little mixing. Then hand a bucket to your kids, inviting them to transport water and see what happens when they add it to dirt. Stand back, and watch them get to work.
- Dole out the water as you go: Allow (or help) kids to fill up their pails or cups and dump water as often as they like. Playing with water is, in and of itself, a highly engaging sensory experience. We have the best luck filling a large container (e.g. 5 gallon bucket or large pot) and letting kids serve themselves.
- Play and “oooooo” alongside them: Let them continue to pour, mix and make mud on their own, but do the same alongside them. Every now and again, “Oooo” or “Ahhh” at the mud puddles, rivers and piles you make. Ask kids if they notice a difference between their mud and yours, giving an opportunity to describe the different muds using words such as soupy, thick, chunky, dry, wet, or sticky. Such a gripping sensory experience is a great opportunity to build language.
- Let kids go as "deep" as they want: Each child has their own threshold for sensory stimulation, and if we trust the to lead their play, they will manage that quite nicely.
- Make something: If kids appear ready for more, simply start to build alongside them. Make a mud pie by forming a fistful of mud into a patty and plopping it down somewhere. Start to combine mud and sticks to make a structure of some kind. Gather nature treasures to decorate the mud. Kids will likely get intrigued by what you are doing and want to try it too. Want more mud play ideas? Try our Mud Faces for Trees DIY, make Mud Art or cook up a feast in the Mud Kitchen.
Why is this activity great for kids?
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