4 Ways to Play in the Mud
Ever wonder why kids delight in playing in the mud? More than one exasperated parent has hosed down their child, muttering, “Why, why, why oh why?” There is a good reason why kids like mud and kids seem to know this instinctively. Mud makes us healthier and happier. Here's why you should let your kids play in it!
It turns out that soil contains a bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, which serves to boost the level of serotonin in our brains. Serotonin is a chemical that helps us feel positive, relaxed and happy. At the same time, playing in mud strengthens our immune system and helps builds resiliency. So delight in the gifts of the earth and make mud pies, mud bricks, and a mud pit with your children. Go so far as to build them a mud kitchen! If they see you floundering with a smile in puddles of mud, they too will find mud, well… mudilicious. Here are some fun suggestions to get the mess going:
Take an aluminum pie plate and fill this with gooey mud. Decorate the top with flowers, twigs, leaves and stones. Make imprints by pressing something with texture into the soft mud and carefully removing this. Try using shells and leaves. Leave to dry and admire your work!
Make a simple mud brick mold by hammering a form together out of 2 x 6’s. Make the form about 6 inches wide and one foot long. Mix water, soil and grasses together until you have a solid goop that keeps its shape. Grasses act like a binding agent. Try experimenting with different ratios of mud, grass or any other natural binding agent. What recipe makes the best bricks? Press your goop into the mold and gently ease it out. Make a series of bricks and allow these to dry completely in the sun. This usually takes at least two days in direct sunlight. Use your bricks to make a simple fire pit, an adobe fort or anything else you can dream up
Take an old wading pool and fill this with a mixture of soil and water until you have a fine slurry. Watch the kids wallow! Have a hose handy and give them a good wash before allowing them back in the house! You can also use a wheel barrow for a more controlled mud experience.
Place a number of stumps against a fence and place an old plywood sheet on top to create the support structure and counter top. Simply cut away part of the counter and insert an old sink or wash basin. Glue on smaller sections of trees to simulate the elements of a stove. Use old pots, pans, baking trays, pie tins or whatever else is gathering dust in the basement and create a whimsical outdoor kitchen. Check out this article for more mud kitchen ideas!
Get out there yourself and have a mudilicious time connecting your children to the very ground that nurtures and sustains us all—Mother Earth.