The Benefits of Mud Play

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    Children playing in mud has gone from every teacher's worst nightmare to being a widely recognised resource for learning. Mud kitchens are a great playground resource that allow children to get hands-on with mud, while encouraging creative thinking and pretend play. Mud kitchens can start out with just a few bowls and spoons, and develop into designs that incorporate shelves, worktops and many different kitchen utensils. Here's why mud kitchens are popping up in schools across the country.

    The Benefits of Letting Children Get Muddy

    Whisking up mud milkshakes and baking mud pies might seem like a strange use of time to you, but there are plenty of benefits for your children.
    • Connecting with Nature
    The natural world is an exciting playground to a child. It’s where they learn important life skills, where they discover new plants and animals, and where they explore and experiment with new ideas. Getting hands-on and muddy is a great way to encourage today’s digital children to disconnect from their electronics and connect with nature instead.
    • Improving Sensory Skills
    By touching mud, feeling it slip through their fingers when wet, or crumble when dry, moulding shapes, and so on, children are developing their sensory skills. Sensory play is crucial for brain development for building nerve connections which are important role for all kinds of learning. This development also improves a child’s ability to complete more complex tasks.
    • Scientific Thinking
    It’s true! Playing with mud can help children to think more scientifically. Children are able to experiment by creating mud from scratch by mixing water with dirt, changing the consistency of mud by adding water, or even creating bubbles by whisking their mud. As children observe these kinds of changes they will begin to formulate their own ideas about how things work. This in turn boosts their problem-solving skills.
    • Creative and Transformative Learning
    Whether your child is an explorer hunting for creepy crawlies, an archaeologist digging for treasure or a chef in a mud kitchen, mud play encourages creative and transformative learning. Mud play stimulates children’s imagination by offering them a rich learning environment where they can use role play as a way to develop their social and emotional understanding.

    Mud Kitchens in Schools

    Mud kitchens are very popular learning resources for early years learners and primary school pupils, especially in Forest Schools. While the thought of letting twenty or so children play in the mud might seem daunting, many schools equip children with welly boots and overalls to minimise mess. Mud play can be easily incorporated into the science and maths curriculum by experimenting with consistency as well as learning to measure, weigh and count natural ‘ingredients.’

    Find your local Forest School on our Local Information pages.

    Mud Kitchens at Home

    When it comes to making your own DIY mud kitchens, it’s all about ensuring the space encourages a variety of learning experiences by providing different resources and stimuli for children to use. Families can make their own mud kitchens simply by gathering some pots, pans and wooden spoons from the kitchen and heading outdoors.

    If you want to take your mud kitchen to the next level, adding crates, boxes or shelves for kitchen counters and storage is a great way to give your mud kitchen shape. Jars, drawers and pretend cooker tops with knobs can help children practise their fine-motor skills as they learn to twist, turn and open. Chalk boards for writing out menus can help children to develop their language and communication skills too.

    When it comes to mud, it can work wonders for a child’s learning. Let them go wild, get messy and learn with mud!

    Article supplied by Sam Flatman is an outdoor learning specialist and an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Play. Sam has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the school curriculum.


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