mud play

More Messy Play Fun & Parent Advice: De-Stress and Embrace the Mess

Guest blogger Amy K. Williams shares these ideas for more messy play fun. I can hardly wait to try them, especially the rainbow powder activity. Enjoy! Or, in her words, “De-stress and embrace the mess.”

Three Kid-Friendly Crafts that Celebrate the Craziness of Chaos

Parents spend a good part of each day cleaning up after kids. Handprints on appliances, crumbs on the floor…and don’t get me started on the bathroom disasters (yuck!). Kids make messes; their ability to tornadically strew random toys and leave trails of crumbs seems to be innately programmed into their little strings of DNA.

While, as parents, we spend hours each day trying to stop them from messy mischief–and to avoid cleaning up the debris—sometimes messes are fun. Yes, there are days when we need to encourage our kids to go crazy with crafts and immerse in muck, mire and messiness!

Playing with different textures and even engaging in messy play is healthy and good for kids. As parents, no matter how much those disasters pain us, we need to promote getting down and dirty with the playtime!

If your OCD mom tendencies are clamming up and freaking out (mine are!), try to chill out. We’re all in this together. After all, it takes a village…right? Right?! Get ready to go elbow deep in crazy messy fun, because to usher in the colorful month of May (flowers!), we’re about to get crafty! Go change into some old clothes and have fun with this trio of cute, artistic and oh so messy craft ideas:

Paint Splatter T-shirts

more messy play fun
What you need: Plain white t-shirts (try discount stores), fabric paints, old clothes (that you can get dirty)

Have kids channel their inner Jackson Pollock! Go out in the backyard for this paint activity, because the colors will literally fly! Put shirts on a hanger or secure them on a clothesline, have kids dip paintbrushes in the paints and flick, splat and drop the paint all over their white shirts. Blank canvas in wearable form! Yes, it will get messy…but that’s why you’re outside!

Rainbow Powdermore messy play fun

What you need (for DIY): Cornstarch, water, food dye, a mixing bowl, food processor and gloves

Have you participated in a Color Run? Runners are doused in fun colorful powder that makes you feel like you just ran through a rainbow. Powders are non-toxic and can be purchased at different websites (even Walmart), and they’re fairly inexpensive. However, you can make your own…and, frankly, I’m all over DIY. And so are kids! The website A Beautiful Mess has a recipe for making the colorful powder (while it isn’t difficult, you need a few days to dry out the powder). Whether you make your own unicorn-inspired powder or buy online, the fun is in the experience. Rainbow powder is meant to be thrown! Take kids outside and let them dual it out by dousing each other in rainbows. And if you’re feeling really magical, add some glitter to the powder!

Mud Kingdoms

more messy play funWhat you need: A hose, dirt, imagination and….old clothes!

Oh, dirt…it’s the most omnipresent debris in kid clean ups. But when you mix it with water, simple dirt becomes malleable mud. Drench your dirt and let kids play in the oozy mucky mud. I know, I know…it’s a mess. But they love it! And the texture is good for sensory play. Encourage kids to create their own mud architecture. Let them build cities or ‘bake’ mud pies. The mud can be whatever they want it to be…let them sculpt. Mud is the ultimate organic substance!

A child’s life doesn’t have to always be clean and structured, and it’s good for kids to know that it’s ok—and even fun—to get messy and dirty sometimes. Let kids engage in colorful and muddy activities and give them permission to make a mess! The best part: the messes can be cleaned up with your garden hose! Now go get crazy and make a huge mess with your kids!

amy-kristine-williamsAmy. K. Williams pops over to visit and shares great ideas for fun and learning. Thank you, Amy for more messy play fun and your advice to us. Amy  is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. Wonder if her house has rainbows…


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?


Kids Play with Anything #7: Child’s Play with Mud

Kids don’t need beauty treatments—which is an adult excuse for playing in mud, and they don’t need excuses, either. Kids just simply play with mud.mud-playDirt + water = mud is a magic formula for sensory and imaginative play. Hands, feet, and sometimes whole bodies feel the ooey, gooey slipperiness of mud. While stirring, squishing, pouring, patting, molding, digging, and other actions mostly stimulate the sense of touch, the other senses are involved too. There are soft sounds for hearing, faint odors for smell, slight differences in the brown color for seeing but hopefully, kids aren’t tasting mud.

For some children the sensory aspect of playing in mud will be all they need, others will like to create. They may make mud pies and cakes, and other concoctions, and leave them to ‘bake’ in the sun. With sticks, small stones, grass, pine cones, leaves, and flowers they might have a recipe for mud stew, also known as fairy soup. A few accessories like spoons, scoops, shovels, and old pots are much appreciated.

play with mudImagination is often another ingredient in mud play. Sometimes, fierce dragons or might dinosaurs also come out to play. Kids know the magic words to turn mud into secret potions that defeat enemies or give amazing powers.

It might look like kids are only mucking about but they are engaged in a tremendous amount of learning. Information is taken in by the senses, so kids need to explore how their senses work. Brains are busy planning, predicting, observing, figuring out cause and effect, problem-solving, visualizing, creating, and imagining, to name only a few thinking skills. On a social level, kids could be talking, sharing, taking turns, and negotiating. Mud play helps kids release tension and develop patience. Hands-on with mud is a hands-on connection to with mudChildren find and invent other ways to play in mud. After time spent playing with mud, a warm bath to wash it all away, is an added bonus. Could play with mud be your child’s play-of-the-day?

It’s Happy International Mud Day: June 29

This Sunday, June 29th, is International Mud Day. All over the world, kids of all ages will be mixing, squishing, splashing, rolling, making, and playing in the mud. The mud fun can start even before that date. Here are some ways to enjoy playing and learning in mud, including tasting some–a friend last year shared … Continue reading It’s Happy International Mud Day: June 29

What Makes Childhood Magical? Part 8: Mud Play

To children, mud is magical. Altho countless generations of children have loved to play with mud, to a child mixing some, it seems to be unique and personal. Once kids know the formula, it can be created over and over. Mud Play There are so many different ways to play with mud. It’s fun to … Continue reading What Makes Childhood Magical? Part 8: Mud Play

Kindergarten Readiness: Before Spring Cleaning Play in Mud

Getting clean and getting dirty are both great activities for kindergarten readiness and fun, but it’s better to get dirty first. A favorite spring activity–for the kids–is playing in mud. When kids play with mud they are having fun and practicing many learning skills like creating, measuring, planning, problem-solving, discovering and more. The small muscles … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Before Spring Cleaning Play in Mud