Did you miss International Mud Day?—or did you enjoy the benefits of International Mud Day and want to recreate it at home? Here are four activities to try in your own backyard—from least messy to messiest!
1. Building with outdoor tools
Using sticks, rocks, leaves, and other outdoor resources, facilitate your early learner in composing structures of entirely natural material. Staff at Timbernook, a sensory experience camp in New Hampshire, tout sticks and other natural materials as toys with unlimited functions. While some early learners can quickly become bored with flashy electronic toys, outdoor materials offer endless options with imagination. Timbernook staff also encourage parents and guardians to stop discouraging children from picking up outdoor materials, particularly sticks, by discussing how dangerous they are. Instead, if the child is modelling poor behavior with a stick or other material gently redirect them to more creative (and safe!) uses of the object.
2. Make your own nature paintbrushes
Using clothespins, acrylic paint (or mud!), and found materials like flowers and leaves, have your early learner create art from nature. Clothespins can be used to grasp flowers, leaves, etc. to dip them into paint and then place them on butcher paper other paper material. Kelly Johnson, of Community Playthings, says that this positions your child at an advantage for learning more about color combinations, not only from the paint, but also from what they discover in nature and what they use as their painting tools.
3. Create “animal homes” for toys
Similar to the building activity above, Community Playthings encourages early learners to derive the sensory benefits of playing with mud from creating homes, tunnels, or forts of mud for plastic, washable toy animals or dinosaurs. Not only do children benefit from the sensory experience of playing with mud, but they also develop spatial awareness, problem-solving, and creative thinking.
4. Throwing “mud balls” at a sheet
Finally, and the messiest, Michelle Rupiper suggests setting up an old sheet in the backyard to serve as a target at which children can throw “mud balls.” Children benefit from the controlled physical activity by developing muscular strength and coordination skills. Just make sure they’re aiming for the chosen target and not each other!
Were you inspired by International Mud Day to create your own early learner outdoor activities? Let us know in the comments!