Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Messy mud play

Mud is a readily available, open ended and sensory enriched material. Whether using shop bought or just digging around in the garden, this natural material will keep your child entertained and develop their skills for a long time.

Whilst working in a primary school, the children would play in the soil/mud for whole afternoons, adding water, digging and jumping up and down in the muddy puddles. This provided a release for emotions/tension and you will be surprised to find out that it develops those skills needed for writing. say that:
Good gross motor skills provide strength, balance and coordination in the body, arms and legs that is needed to support fine motor control e.g. sitting at a desk to color or write
Over the past week, Bee has been helping me in the garden and has started to love playing in soil. This led to a week of exploring the soil and getting very, very muddy!
When her friend 'P' came over for a play date she invited him to experience the soil too (thankfully his mum agreed and had spare clothes) The children loved playing and exploring on their own and then invited us into their play by asking us to taste their mud soup. The hours of fun they had with this activity was unbelievable.
Having fun exploring the qualities of mud!
Who can play?
Children aged three and above, depending on their age and stage of development.

Before playing in the soiled area/tray containing soil, check for animal faeces and potentially dangerous wild life, if you live in countries that have black widows etc.
Encourage children not to put the soil in their mouth as this can cause illness and wash hands after playing this activity.

What do you need?

  • Soil, either from the garden or bought from the garden center.
  • Water
  • Buckets, turkey basters,cups or anything you think will inspire creativity
  • Spoons
  • Watering cans
  • Clothing that you do not mind getting dirty
  • Wipe clean shoes or wellington boots
  • Tray if you are using shop bought soil

What did the critiques have to say?
"I love it... It feels mushy and cold" by Bee aged 3

What questions could be asked?
  • How can we make mud? What do we need?
  • What does it feel like?
  • What could we make?
What did we do?
The first thing that had to be done was to do a safety check on the area. I looked for faeces (animal poop) or any other sharp matter that could have pose a danger. Then I made sure that the children had equipment such as buckets filled with water, spray bottles and spades etc close at hand and ready to encourage exploration.

The children got stuck in to the activity. They made mud pies, mud soup, mud tea and just generally explored the effects that water has on soil.

Bee thought it was really funny when her shoe got stuck in the mud. She was so engrossed in her play, that she just left it and carried on with her task.
Using our hands and feet to explore the mud
The friends took turns and shared the equipment and asked for help when they needed more water. They also used a lot of descriptive language such as wet and slippy and investigated the ants and worms.          
Looking for bugs in the mud and working together as a team
After they had finished investigating the bugs, they decided to fill the patches on the wall. that did not have any leaves on it. They did this by grabbing handfuls of mud and throwing it at the patches on the wall. By doing this they were not only developing their fine manipulative and large manipulative skills but hand eye coordination too.
Grabbing hand fulls of soil and throwing them at the wall.
Once they were happy with their wall, they began spraying the mud with the spray bottles. It was not long before the attention of the mud was switched to me! The children had so much fun getting me wet...and why not?! It was a hot day and sometimes it's worth it to hear their real heart felt laughter.

Lots of giggles and hearty laughs when spraying me with water.
I cannot believe how much they loved getting muddy. They had it everywhere, on their face, hands and even their...
Someone needs a shower down with the hose :-)
...toes. When the mud was at it's sloppiest consistency, Bee and her friend decided to remove their shoes and explore it with their feet. I love this photo of Bee and her friend 'P'! The pure delight in their faces was priceless.
Muddy little toes. 
When the activity came to an end, I finally got my own back on the children, as I sprayed them both with the garden hose. This turned into a water fight, but at least we all ended up nice and clean.

What did we learn?
  • Communication and language-Talking about what they are seeing and feeling. Discussing what they are doing.
  • Physical development- Developing Fine and large manipulative skills by digging and picking up the mud, squelching it in between fingers, throwing the mud at walls and using tools to manipulate the mud and hand eye coordination, 
  • Personal, social and emotional- Making relationships, developing social skills such as sharing and turn taking. Exploring feelings and self help. Fun and enjoyment. Being involved in an activity that involves sensory areas, such as sight, smell, sound and touch.
  • Literacy- Developing the fine manipulative skills needed when learning how to write
  • Mathematics- Learning concepts such as space, measurement and capacity.
  • Understanding of the world- Learning about the world around them. Having a hands on experience at change of state, as the children change soil (solid) into mud (liquid) 
  • Expressive arts and design-Engaging in role play and using their imagination.

What could be done next?

  • Add tea sets to make a muddy tea party
  • Create a tray with soil from a garden center and place animals in it. Fun themes could be dinosaurs, wild animals or fairies. To create a scene add leaves and stones etc.
  • Why not add plant pots to the tray and flowers. Your child may be inspired to create their own flower shop. Place writing equipment near the area to encourage mark making when writing prices or making posters for the shop.
  • Hide letters and numbers in the soil
  • Go on a pirate adventure and dig for treasure.

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