One day after it rained the children went outside to play in the playground. The following videos show the children stomping in the mud, playing in the mud, feeling it between their toes, and making good ole’ fashion mud pies. While most adults would cringe at the fact that the children are playing in mud, it’s such an important video. These videos show what the children think they are doing, what they are actually doing, and what other children think the other children are doing. There are so many perspectives and opportunities for social interaction when playing in the mud!
While the goal of this play wasn’t to get messy (you can see in the video that some of the children didn’t like getting the mud on their hands) there was still a rich learning experience occurring. We like to take advantage of weather like this, which is why each child has a pair of rain boots at the school just so we can go outside and play after it rains. In the video you can see and hear one of the children teaching another child how to “jump.” If you listen closely, you can hear one child saying, “one, two, three… jump!” With the other child trying so hard to jump with him! This is a wonderful example of how the children are teaching each other in beautiful, unstructured play.
When some parents see their child heading towards a puddle or mud pile, all they can see is dirt stained clothes and hazardous germs. However, according to Medical News Today, bacteria in mud can actually increase the quality of life in humans caused by activation of neurons in the brain that contained serotonin. According to Dr. Dennis Ownby, depriving your children of physical contact with the “dirty, outside world” is actually affecting their health negatively. There are certain germs and micro-organisms found in mud and in the outdoors that are essential for a child’s development and exposure to them lead to pure immune resistance, which means a child will be less susceptible to disease later in life.
“According to Doug Cole, there is no such thing as bad play, but it’s important to ensure rounded skill acquisition and development by allowing children to experience a balance of different types of play, including some unstructured play where they feel they are allowed to get messy.”
Besides benefiting children’s health, playing in the mud provides an opportunity for creativity and imagination, stimulates many senses at once through sensory play, improves eye-hand coordination, allows children to observe and experiment with cause-and-effect, gives children the opportunity to engage in pretend-real-life play, leads to creativity (mud is an art medium, after all), enhances gross motor skills, and self-care knowledge!
We really do believe that children, especially children under a certain age, learn more through unstructured outdoor play than if they spent time indoors for hours every day of the week. We’ve seen it happen with our children time and time again when they learn more about the world, themselves, and each other by stomping through mud puddles, splashing around in muddy water, or just playing with mud in it’s many different forms: dry, wet, clumpy, rough, soft, or smooth!
Mud is like water play… but with way more opportunities!
Want your child to be healthier, more creative, and have well-rounded play? Encourage them to puddle hop, build a sandcastle, bake a cake, roll down a muddle bank on your side, collect tadpoles, find worms, or simply get dirty gardening!