Mud glorious Mud!
One warm wet morning, we set off along a deeply rutted track for a walk to the woods. While Jo and I skirted the wettest stretches of the track, the children were drawn irresistibly to the mud and the puddles. It wasn’t long before one child sank into the mud, and we watched in horror as the runny mud oozed right over the top of his wellies. We waited for the anguished screams – but instead there was delighted laughter as he was pulled from out of the mud by his friends, and then proceeded to abandon his wellies and slosh around barefoot. Once the children had had enough of wading through the mud, they progressed on to moulding and shaping it, creating a whole village of muddy elf houses, some of them with twig walls and wattle walls. The woods just waited for another day.
Mud is a wonderful material for playing with – squidging between the toes, dribbling through fingers, or it can be plastered on faces and made into pies. If you shudder at the thought of your children becoming mud larks, remember that it is just soil – easily washed off and pretty harmless. It doesn’t matter if the children get dirty – just let them have fun and enjoy exploring the natural world. It’s acceptable for boys to get plastered in mud on the football pitch, so why shouldn’t they get muddy while exploring the natural world? Children need the freedom to play outdoors, to have adventures – and to get dirty.
Mud pies and cakes
An old favourite – encourage them to look for different coloured soils to create layer cakes – what better way to learn that soil varies in colour and texture. Decorate the cakes with twig candles, nuts and seeds.
Mud drawings – Try using a stick to draw in the mud, or try dipping the stick in mud and then using it like paint to make patterns on rocks or tree trunks. Or let them make muddy handprints and footprints on rocks, on paper – or, best of all, on each other.
Mud balls – Roll handfuls of mud to make balls – then try sticking different materials to them – such as moss, dead leaves and grasses. How many mud balls can you balance on top of each other? Who can make the tallest mud ball tower?
Mud bowls and sculptures – The first pots made by humans were created from mud collected straight from the ground; if you can find a patch of clay, have a go at making your own pinch pots – or get creative and make sculptures.
- Always supervise children if near water
- Cover any cuts with waterproof plasters
- Wash hands thoroughly after playing in mud