It’s monsoon, time of the year when muddy puddles are all around us. Rain and mud puddles have inspired me to write today’s blog.

How often have we seen young children gravitate towards mud puddles and how often as adults have we stopped them from playing in the ‘dirty water’? Often, probably is the answer. We fear that children will get their hands and cloths dirty, we fear that they will catch infections, fall sick and these fears are genuine. But there is ample research that says, being exposed to bacteria in moderation actually builds children’s immune system? So, jumping and having a splash in the muddy water might not be as life threatening as we perceive it.

Playing with mud has lot of benefits. It is a rich sensory experience and a different kind of sensory experience than digging soil or sand. Walking and running on a muddy patch is an entirely different experience; the slippery surface provides proprioceptive and vestibular stimulation. Walking and running on a muddy patch will require children to balance their bodies and strengthen their muscles and joints. Stirring mud with a stick is an energetic play and it builds upper body muscles. Strong upper body muscles are a prerequisite for writing skills.

Mud has a soothing and calming effect on children. Playing in mud helps children relax, something that children around the world probably know instinctively but now this has been proven scientifically too.

Playing with mud will encourage conversations. Children will learn new words related to mud such as slimy, gooey, thick, soft, sticky, liquid, clingy, mucky, clay, slippery, slushy, gunky to list few.

As a preschool you can plan mud play and ensure that children have this fun and rich experience thought the year.

Some Mud Play Ideas:

Mud kitchen is an excellent way to encourage imagination, language development and social skills. Children love making mud pies. Get few old pots and pans in your outdoor play area and have some water, soil, leaves and flowers for children to cook with. Children in India are very familiar with the term tandoor. It would be a brilliant experience for children to build a tandoor and pretend cook tandoor roti and tandoori paneer. Children’s learning about the world around them could be extended by relating their tandoor to different clay ovens from around the world too.

Playing in the mud kitchen also provides for opportunities to enhance math skills such as volume, quantity and measurement.

Mud play and construction go hand in hand. Children can build houses from mud. Many people in India and around the world live in houses built from mud. As early years professionals we must expose children in our care to different ways of living and sensitizing them to the world around them. For example, children can be shown the mud huts built by Masai people in Kenya and talk about the similarities and differences between the mud hut they see in India and the ones built by Masai people.

How about a Mud spa? We all have applied Multani mitti on our faces at some point in our lives. Why not give children the same to play with. In your pretend play corner arrange for some tubs, towels and Multani mitti for children to enjoy a day at the spa.

Art and Mud. Mud is an open ended resource and is all inclusive. It allows children to play at their developmental level and encourages creative thinking. Children can build all kinds of models and sculptures with mud and natural resources such as twigs, pebbles and sticks.

Playing in and with mud helps children connect with the natural world. In today’s time children often don’t have many opportunities to spend time outdoors. How will they connect and cherish Mother Nature if they have never interacted with her? Mud play helps children develop an appreciation for their natural surroundings. But the most important benefit of mud play is the memories children create, they will last a life time.

PreschoolGuru Education Consultancy

Image from Thekidslogic.com