COLUMN: Mud, glorious mud! How and why you should let your children get muddy

Kristina Johnson.
Kristina Johnson.
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Getting muddy is not a bad thing for children – especially on International Mud Day! Kristina Johnson from Mon Ami Children’s Nurseries explains how and why you should let your children get muddy from time to time…

As parents our instinct is often to discourage our children from being too messy or getting mud on their clothes, hands and faces. But messy play is a really important activity which helps children develop lots of skills.

International Mud Day is becoming more and more popular, and it was celebrated around the world on 29th June this year. At Mon Ami Children’s Nurseries we made sure we didn’t miss the opportunity to get out in the garden and explore muddy play in all its glorious messiness!

It’s quite amazing what children can learn and how they can develop their play skills using simple items such as cardboard boxes and being outdoors in the mud. While it sounds messy (and yes, it can be!), there are so many benefits when children are allowed to play outdoors in a muddy patch.

Dressing your child in the right clothing is advisable, of course, to save on the washing machine use and to make sure that the children don’t get cold and wet. Wellington boots are always a good idea, as is an all-in-one splash suit, but an old coat and old pair of trousers will do just as well.

One good way to give children some resources to use outside in the mud is to get those old pots, pans and baking items out from the back of the cupboard. Together with some old spoons they will make a fantastic resource box to create a mud kitchen, but it goes without saying that these items should not be used in the kitchen again afterwards! Instead keep them aside for use as a play resource the next time you fancy letting the children loose in the mud!

A simple surface for children to use is always handy too; this gives them somewhere to mix mud in containers and transfer their creations to ‘bake’ – after all, who doesn’t love a mud pie?

Mud mixed with water can create a good mixture to make marks with and practise early writing skills; you could even encourage your child to use a twig from the garden as a pen, dipping it in the mud mixture. They can use paper, old cardboard or even a concrete path to show off all their mark-making skills, and it all helps them when they learn how to write later on.

Such simple play creates 
endless opportunities for language and discussion and is a truly lovely way for adults to spend quality time with their children.

If you’d like to find some more good ideas about muddy play visit www.muddyfaces.co.uk, where there are lots of lovely ideas and tips!