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Mud Art

  • Age: 0 to 8+
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Materials: dirt, water, objects from nature, paper or fabric, paintbrush, (optional) food coloring/crushed chalk/colorful spices and berries

Mud is malleable, sticky, versatile and easily available- all the makings for a perfect art material for kids! In this activity, kids explore the many possibilities for mud play by transforming dirt and water into paint. And once made, the creative uses for mud paint are endless!

The Guide

Set Up: Gather some old fabric or paper, some paintbrushes, a stick for stirring, some containers and water. Then, head outside and set up your materials in an area with a patch of dirt.

Invite Play: Wonder aloud, “Do you think we could make our own nature paint today?” Crouch down somewhere with open earth. “Do you think we could make paint out of the dirt? This dirt feels a bit dry. How do you think we could make the dirt feel and act like paint?”

Make Mud Paint: Set out some water, containers and stirring stick. Then, watch to see how your child chooses to use the materials. Invite your child to experiment with the dirt and water to change the consistency of the mud paint. Notice together what shades of brown you see. Explore different patches of dirt to see if you can find different shades of brown. To make colorful mud, add a couple of drops of food coloring to your mud containers or invite your child to crush up some colorful chalk to add to their paint. Or, offer some colorful spices like turmeric and paprika or soft berries to mix in and add color.

Make Mud Art: Offer paper or a piece of old fabric and a paintbrush and wonder what the mud paint would look like on a canvas. Welcome your child to explore and create with their mud paint in any way they imagine. Or, try some of these fun ways to make art with mud:

  • Mud prints: Model putting your hands or feet in mud and then pressing them on rocks, the sidewalk, cardboard or paper. Notice aloud the mark that your hands and feet left behind and welcome your child to try it out. Invite your child to move like different animals or insects. What kind of hand and foot prints are made by moving that way?
  • Mud collage: Mud can be a great adhesive! Use mud to paint a base design on a flat surface outdoors or on a piece of paper, and then collect some nature treasures to stick into the painting to make it three-dimensional.
  • Mud stamps: Dip leaves and other objects into mud and stamp them on pavement to make different shapes.
  • Mud mosaics: Plop a bunch of mud on the ground or on a plate. Then, start to arrange small nature treasures like pebbles or acorns in a design (e.g. a spiral). Welcome kids to finish yours or make their own mosaic.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Creating art with mud is a terrific way to simultaneously engage the senses and kids’ creativity. And, when kids are invited to create using only the objects they can find around them, they are developing flexible thinking and problem-solving skills. Using objects from nature in their art also supports observation skills and helps kids tune in to the colors and textures of nature.

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