“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.
It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
One evening it poured down rain. When we arrived at school the next day, our playground area was one big, wet, muddy mess. Instead of forbidding the children to play in the mud, we embraced it. We allowed the toddlers to put on their boots, enjoy the mud and water play, and most importantly, explore nature. They splashed, stomped, and felt the wet mud in their hands.
Water play is important because it fosters creativity, freedom, curiosity, and provides opportunities for extended learning. In general, outdoor activities are healthy for children because it can be calming to them, helps them interact with and understand the natural world, offers a chance for more social interaction with peers, helps develop their powers of observation and their assessment of risk, offers more opportunities for creativity and free play, and helps to build a strong link between physical health and outdoor play at a young age. In addition, outdoor play can boost the confidence of children as they learn new things.
Water and a few inexpensive materials can provide a sensory and learning experience of immense proportions for children. According to Southern Early Childhood, free play with water and mud can build the foundation for understanding physics (flow, motion), chemistry (solutions, cohesion), biology (plant and animal life), mathematics (measurement, equivalence, volume). According to Carol Gross, Children inquire, observe, compare, imagine, invent, design experiments, and theorize when they explore with natural science materials such as water, sand, and mud.
For more information on the benefits of water play, we recommend reading this wonderful article from Early Childhood News.