connecting to nature

Mayhem and Messy Play #13: Kids Gardening Messy Play

Sunny weekends at this time are an invitation to get outside that can’t be resisted plus it’s time for some kids gardening messy play and sensory fun. Mom Ursula M recently posted a photo and a comment about gardening with kids. She said after spending some time showing her son about planting, Lucca“had dirt from head to toe and he loved every second.” She added it was one of the best parts of the day. kids gardening messy play

From a series of posts previously, here is a part about gardens and senses:

In a garden so many activities are touchy-feely. Hands get to dig in the soil, play with mud, find rocks, feel slippery earthworms and fuzzy caterpillars, and oh so gently touch plants. There’s the feeling of the outdoors from the soft breeze, the warm sun, and the cool water. Flowers and herbs are not the only things for smelling, but are probably what smell the best. Gardens are usually quiet places, so ears have to listen carefully. Hands pat the earth softly, the wind rustles the leaves, feet scrunch on the paths, and sometimes birds sing along.

Besides planting, digging is another great and messy gardening activity. While adults use big spades, kids can dig with smaller ones. They will use whatever is handy, be it sand shovels, plastic garden tools, diggers, or their hands. They might even like a turn with the big tools. When it comes time to add water, kids also love using hoses, pails, and watering cans. Water plus dirt makes for even more messy and sensory fun.

kids can help with yard work

While the freedom to make a mess is appealing, messy play also includes the freedom to explore and to question. What will happen to seeds in the ground? Will plants really grow?  How does a worm move? Where does the water go after dropping it on the ground? Adults know the water soaks into the dirt but it’s quite a mystery to kids. Apparently, kids ask over 300 questions a day! With so much to figure out about the world, it’s no wonder kids are full of questions.

kids garden play

Kids gardening messy play is just the start of a connection to nature. More than that, it’s a partnership with kids doing the planting and tending, and nature supplying the rest. Children learn they have a part to play in caring for nature’s gifts and that includes themselves. Will kids gardening messy play be part of your weekend?


Mayhem and Messy Play #5: Messy Mud Play and Learning

Messy mud play and learning tops a bucket list of activities for kids. Like a right of childhood, kids deserve the opportunity to get covered with mud. The good news is kids are wash and towel dry. (Washing machines and rocks aren’t great friends, so make sure you check pockets and rolled up hems before doing a mud load.)mud-book-discovery-childrens-centre

Why does messy mud play appeal to kids?

One of the tools kids have for learning about themselves and their world is their sensory channel. Mud touches exposed skin all over the body. While it hurts when it gets in eyes, and itches insides clothing, it also feels cool and slippery. It’s used in beauty treatments for a reason.

messy mud playMud play is active, not only for hands but whole bodies. Jumping over puddles is almost as much fun as jumping in them.

rainy day fun puddle

How can kids play with mud?

While this little tyke isn’t messy yet, he likely soon will be. Mud play invites children to explore. Will mud pour? What happens to a mountain of mud when it’s stepped on? Why does a hole dug in mud keep filling with water? There are so many questions kids can ask just waiting to be answered by playing around in the mud. Much of this is linking cause and effect.

play with mudMud also encourages creating. With spoons, shovels, and old pots and pans, kids can make mud pies and cakes. Or, they may build roads, mountains, towns, and magic potions. A pile of mud decorated with twigs, rocks, and pinecones might be a mud monster. Mud in a pot mixed with nature ingredients might be fairy soup.

play with mud

Don’t forget imagination. There’s plenty of opportunity for pretend and imaginative play with messy mud play. Dinosaurs can roam the world in a muddy puddle. Cars and trucks might be small enough for a hand, but big enough to be just like the real ones on a construction site.

play with sand and dirt

What kind of learning is involved?

While bodies are busy playing in mud, so are brains. The brain is not only processing the information taken in by the senses, it is also solving problems, planning, creating, imagining, and choosing. In addition to the physical and mental aspects, there are social and emotional ones. When playing with others, kids are negotiating, sharing, taking turns, and more. Emotionally, kids cannot always make mud do what they want. They have to learn to adapt what they want to how mud behaves. This needs patience and acceptance. For the most part, this hands-on connection to nature is relaxing because kids have to learn to sometimes let go of what they want. That’s an important lessons for any of us.

outside play with transportation toys

No wonder messy mud play has been part of childhood for hundreds of years. Can it be part of your child’s day?


Earth Day Forest Bath for Kids – Connecting to Nature and Trees

A marvelous idea for celebrating is to spend some time with trees, an Earth Day Forest Bath for kids and adults. Even if it means visiting a forest, a bath conveys the sense of being immersed in them, relaxing in the stillness and connecting our energy to the forest.

kids need more hiking timeIn Japan, Forest Bathing has been part of the national public health program for decades. It’s been proven to “lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.”

While this is for adults, children benefit too. The very young suffer from stress and anxiety. Childhood comes with attacks on the immune system as kids cope with all kinds of contagious challenges. Building a connection, a relationship to nature while they are young will support children for a lifetime.Finding a place with trees can be a challenge in urban areas. Parks are often the best option unless you can go to a wilderness area close by. Once you get to a place with trees, spend a minute or two with your child looking at them. Look down on the ground for pine cones. Then, look up. Do the trees go far up to the sky? Any spring blossoms?earth day activites for kids

Not all trees are the same. The leaves are different, but closer to the ground, the bark is too. Some trees have rough bark and some are smooth. Young kids won’t want to spend much time looking at trees, but feeling the bark is quite sensory. Trees with exposed roots can be a home for little creatures, real and imaginary ones. The branches and leaves may be sheltering a bird’s nest but nests are hard to see.

One of the most fun activities for kids is to climb a tree. Of course, this can be risky although it is magical, almost like being able to fly.

child climbing trees

In some areas, there may be tiny trees available for planting. Many commercial nurseries have specials on trees for Earth Day. This is wonderful day for connecting to nature. Will in include an Earth Day forest bath for kids and the rest of the family?


Magic Wishes for Preschool/Kindergarten: Kids Need More Nature Hikes

Kids need more nature hikes because…hiking time outdoors in nature changes our brains; it helps bodies, brains, and hearts for all ages, wee ones to grown ones. Q. Just imagine after St. Patrick’s or April Fools, you were somehow left with one wish or a magic wand. A sort of realistic one, but your wish … Continue reading Magic Wishes for Preschool/Kindergarten: Kids Need More Nature Hikes

Kids’ Nature March Into Spring – Time to Play Outdoors

To celebrate the day (finally!) how about a kids’ nature march into spring? Well, maybe more accurately a walk or run. No matter how kids move, the first day of spring is a call to go outdoors. Is there a playground in your area or a park? Besides sliding and swinging, a big, open space invites … Continue reading Kids’ Nature March Into Spring – Time to Play Outdoors

February Friendship #3: Kids Can Be Friends with Nature

February is friendship month and kids can be friends with nature. When we think about it, a connection to nature supports us for an entire life-time. This weekend, in our area, we got to experience both positive and negative aspects to nature. Snow started early Friday and hasn’t really quit now for 4 days. The … Continue reading February Friendship #3: Kids Can Be Friends with Nature

New Year’s Resolution Word W= Wild: 16 Ways Kids Go Wild For Nature

As a new year’s resolution, spending more time in nature benefits us all, kids and adults. Could you use some ideas on ways kids go wild for nature? 1. Go for a Run, Walk, or Hike. This is the simplest to do anytime. It could be a park or even just the neighborhood. Urban areas … Continue reading New Year’s Resolution Word W= Wild: 16 Ways Kids Go Wild For Nature

Play-of-the-Day Advent Calendar – Christmas Outdoor Fun

Is the weather in your area part of Christmas outdoor fun? No matter where you live, dress kids for the weather and take them outside for fun and play. This weekend, it’s snowing here. With the temperature right around freezing, it’s perfect weather for making snowmen. That’s certainly what the kids did as soon as … Continue reading Play-of-the-Day Advent Calendar – Christmas Outdoor Fun

Nature Dragon Treasure Hunt for Kids

Usually, dragons have some kind of treasure to guard; a nature dragon would have outdoor treasure so let’s go on a nature dragon treasure hunt. Crowns are optional. There are so many different kinds of dragons. Some dragons are scary, some are helpful. Often dragons are mean and sometimes they are friendly. For homes, we … Continue reading Nature Dragon Treasure Hunt for Kids