Here's a round-up of ten interesting activities that children can be encouraged to do with mud:
- Cooking mud pies in a mud kitchen - this image is from www.castlenursery.net. A mud kitchen can be as simple as a patch of soil and an unwanted saucepan, right up to a fully equipped toy kitchen set up outside with a variety of wooden, plastic and metal tools, pans, bowls and utensils - where children can mix mud, water, acorns, pebbles and pine cones to their hearts content to make mud pies, grubby soup, worm cake and any other delectables that their imagination provides.
- Mud sculpture - this image is from casamarias.blogspot.co.uk. Encourage children to make models using mud, and allow them to dry out. Clay type mud is better for this.
- Mud painting - image from elmbridge.gov.uk. Take a large, sturdy piece of card and encourage the children to "paint" images and patterns using hands, sticks, car wheels, bike tyres, brushes or anything else.
- Planting - image from mymothermode.com. Children don't "get in the way" of gardening (once they are walking and not eating everything anyway), and love to be involved in the gardening process. Point them to some nicely prepared soil, show them how to plant, and let them go for it. It's true, a few small plants may get slightly damaged in the process, but most recover, and the learning experience is well worth it.
- Small world farm - This awesome small world farm was pinned by Kirstine Beeley on Pinterest. I would prefer to set the farm up in a raised bed, but this outdoor play tray is really good too. She's even got real carrots in there for the tractor to harvest!
- Diggers - This image is from pre-schoolplay.blogspot.com. So the toys get dirty - they can be washed! Put diggers in real soil/mud, especially if there's a construction site nearby that the children can relate to.
- Archaeology dig - Bury an interesting artifact (a pot in several pieces, an old metal kitchen utensil or a few toy dinosaurs) in the soil in one area of the garden or a raised bed, and allow it to settle for a few weeks (if you can spare some garden). Now introduce the children to the idea of archaeology and how it works. Show them the area of the garden where they will search. When they've dug the item up, get them to try to put it together if required, and to figure out what they can about the item. This image is from allthatsgood.blogspot.co.uk.
- Make compost - Get kids involved with your compost making routine at home and you'll have the joys of introducing them to reducing waste, to all sorts of little garden critters, and to making the garden a better place. It's a win-win! These images are from www.greenmomguide.com where she talks about how to make compost with kids in under an hour.
- Barefoot walk - I know, I know. There might be sharp stones, prickly plants, or even glass or dog mess. But let's say you check the route for any obvious signs of these first. It takes a lot to beat the feeling of tickly grass and squelchy mud between our toes. And lets face it, most of us don't think twice about letting our little ones barefeet on the beach, where there are similar risks? This awesome picture is from outsideways.com.
- Tracking - There are two types of tracking. The first is the one practiced by wilderness gurus the world over, where you are looking for signs left by wildlife. This may be owl pellets, fur, tunnels through the grass, nibbled nuts and... footprints in the snow or... mud! The other is the method used by scouts to leave a trail for those following on behind, a series of simple symbols created with pebbles, stones, chalk or even drawn in the mud. It doesn't matter which of these you choose, you'll have a ball. To find animal tracks in the mud you'll want it to have rained the day before, to make the ground nice and soft, so that evening and night time critter visitors will have left nice footprints for you to find in the morning. This image is of a deer print from newforestexplorersguide.co.uk, where they have lots of other great tracking information for the UK.
What do you like to do with mud?