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When the summer heat ramps up, do as pigs do and get relief with mud play! Mud retains cold and you can sculpt it to cover what needs cooling. With just a few simple materials, kids can turn ordinary stones into pig friends and help their pigs (and themselves) stay cool as they play.
Make piggie friends: Invite your child to help you use a permanent marker or acrylic paint to turn stones into pigs. Then, say, “Do you know how pigs stay cool when it is hot outside? They play in the mud! Do you think we can help our pig friends stay cool?”
Mud play for pig friends: Offer a container of water and invite your child to make some mud for pig friends to play. Then, step back and let the pretend play begin. Wonder aloud how the pig friends like to play. Do they like to roll in the mud? Jump into the mud? Invite kids to use sticks or other objects from nature to make a mud play pen or a habitat for their pig friends. Offer a container of sudsy water so pigs (and kids) can wash off when they need a change in play.
Do as pigs do: To explore the cooling properties of mud, invite your child to spread a bit of mud on their skin and notice how it feels. If your child likes the sensation, invite them to bury toes or feet in the mud. You can even offer a paintbrush to “paint” mud on their skin. If your child is embracing the immersive mud play, fill a kiddie pool or container (large enough for your child to get inside) full of mud and have at it! To extend the play, hide pig friends or other objects inside the mud and invite your child to discover them. If you don’t have a pool but do have a patch of dirt, add water and let kids get muddy! Offer a container of sudsy water and some towels and make clean-up part of the cooling play.
Plants and animals employ all kinds of strategies to stay cool; we humans don’t have to be different. And, for young kids, this is the time in life to solidify attitudes about the natural world. If we can give kids ways to keep in control of their own coolness, they can develop self-reliance and resilience. Mud play is also a super way to help kids engage and develop their senses. And, as they think about what pigs need to stay cool and how they like to play, kids develop their imaginations and empathy for other creatures.