Happy Kids Are Muddy Kids!
It takes a lot of self-control for kids (and some adults) to avoid jumping in a puddle or squishing that wet, soft earthy matter between their fingers. The question is, should we as parents and educators discourage messy and muddy play? Or should we encourage that instinct and allow children to get lost in the moment with mud and all that its messiness brings?
AppleBerries Early Education Service, we embrace playing in the mud and take every opportunity to get down and dirty in our outdoor classroom following a little rain. Mud encourages rich and engaging sensory play, it’s an excellent medium for learning and development. Not only is playing in the mud lots of fun but kids can benefit from playing in the mud and getting messy.
Benefits of messy, muddy play:
Messy, muddy play stimulates the imagination. It provides endless opportunities for creative expression. Kids can paint with mud, bake pretend mud pies, create roads and tracks for diggers and cars and build sculptures using a combination of mud, leaves and twigs. Mud is a wonderful tactical medium.
This type of outdoor play is contagious and offers inclusive social interaction with other children. Mud play can create a versatile sensory experience for children to play on their own or with others.
Playing with dirt and mud has been shown to soothe, calm and help children relax. Research shows that a friendly microscopic bacterium known as Mycobacterium Vaccaestimulates the immune system and increases the levels of serotonin which is the happy hormone.
Scientists have also said that exposure to dirt and mud can prime a child’s immune system to prevent allergies and asthma symptoms.
Is playing in mud safe?
Yes. Supervised messy, muddy play is safe. Aside from some additional laundry it causes, exploring and playing in the mud is safe for children. We don’t want our kids to be eating their mud creations but getting it under their fingernails, between the toes and all over their clothes is safe when in a natural environment.
Our team at AppleBerries Early Education Service believe that mud is an important activity that cultivates a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. It creates a connection to their natural environment and teaches them some wonderful skills.
When your little one comes home next with a little mud hidden behind their ear and evidence on their t-shirt, know that they have had fun in the mud. After all, a happy kid is a muddy kid!