Mud and dirt play have all the benefits of outdoor play and nature play, but there are specific reasons as to why letting your children play in the mud and dirt are good for them. Read on if you need a little convincing that all that cleaning afterwards is worthwhile!!
A lot of happy memories are made when play involves mud and dirt, and they remember these play times for a long time after.
It is very rare that a child turns down an opportunity to get muddy and dirty, although mini man no.2 did used to be that child, so I know it isn’t for everyone. However, even he, after watching his sister and twin brother, has now come to the conclusion that dirt play is huge fun (in the photo above he has painted his face with the stuff, when only a couple of years ago he wouldn’t have even touched it with his fingers!). However, generally, children are drawn to dirt, and they enjoy playing with it, and it makes them happy.
We are all too clean these days, which in turn has had a knock on effect of increasing illnesses and allergies. Dirt play exposes children to a healthy dose of bugs, and has been shown to boost children’s immunity.
Playing with mud and dirt are open ended….the possibilities are endless, they are not age defined, and it doesn’t have a predetermined role. It utilises and exercises a child’s creativity and imagination. It is amazing when it is used for art too.
Playing with mud and dirt (alongside the benefits of nature and outdoor play as a whole) has proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
It has been scientifically proven that dirt makes us happy! Dirt has microscopic bacteria in (mycobacterium vaccae) that increases our serotonin level in our brains, making us happy and relaxed. This can also improve our cognitive function…maybe pigs do have the right idea with all that rolling in mud!
There are ways we can encourage our children to get out there and get dirty by playing with mud. I have a few tips and ideas.
- Make a mud kitchen area. This doesn’t have to be complicated. We have an old table full of pots and pans, utensils, jugs, and a water table next to it that collects rain water that can then be used to make culinary delights, or potions.
- Set aside a patch of dirt. We have a patch of dirt where our trio can dig, scoop, and play in without fear of a slightly angry parent for digging up the lovely flowers 🙂
- Nature art. We often head outdoors and use mud and dirt in our creations. An example of this is you can make animals from mud, leaves, cones, sticks etc. Making art with mud is great fun.
- Muddy puddle jumping. Go on a muddy puddle jumping walk. There will be much shrieking, laughing, and splashing.
- Make dams/rivers. My trio love doing this and being able to watch the water change direction according what they are doing or building.