At Eureka! Nursery we’re never afraid to get messy, ever.
International Mud Day happens every year on 29 June. Promoted by the World Forum, it aims to be a “time for children – and anyone else – all over the world to celebrate nature, outdoors, and mess by getting really muddy”. As well as a celebration of mud – glorious mud, the day serves as a really good reminder of the importance of allowing children to connect with nature.
Getting messy has real benefits
We know that muddy play is great fun, but there are lots of other reasons why you should let your children get messy. At Eureka!, we’ve written a lot about the importance of letting our children take risks and muddy, messy play is a great way for children to do this – they can mould it, squish it, squelch and shape it, then let their creations dry out.
Do you have great childhood memories of making mud pies, creating the meals for your very own tea parties using mud and leaves? There’s really no right or wrong way to use mud in play and, whilst it may be messy, one of the great things about mud is that it’s free and there’s a lot of it around!
The physical properties of mud mean that it provides a really rich tactile and sensory experience. Perhaps this goes some way to explain why some adults pay a small fortune to have mud smeared on their faces and bodies in health spas, and why every year we see photos of mud-covered adults at Glastonbury and other festivals. Through mud play, children also develop their fine motor skills, mathematical and scientific knowledge, and it’s a great way to develop their imagination and creativity.
But maybe the icing on the mud pie comes from research published a few years ago by LiveScience, which suggested that exposure to “friendly soil bacteria” can improve mood by boosting our immune systems. They go as far as to claim that contact with mud can be just as effective as taking some anti-depressants.
Mud pies all round!
We know that, for many people, getting to play in the mud isn’t that straight forward. After all, here in our nursery we’ve got lots of staff, special facilities and plenty of all-in-one rain suits, but there are things you can try out at home on a much smaller scale. Why not try to create your own mud kitchen in your garden or at the park – it’s not as complicated as it sounds, just gather together old pots, pans or kitchen utensils, dress your children in clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, find a squishy, muddy spot and let your child lead the play from there to create a mud meal.
The book Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow, published in the 1960s, is a great resource to support children who enjoy making tea parties for their toys.
There’s an uncredited quote that says “Go play in the mud, life is too short to have clean fingernails” so this summer, don’t worry about the laundry – get squishing, squelching and enjoying the mud!