Mud – dirt and water… two basic ingredients that can conjure up the most terrific feelings and make learning fun. What is it about this magnificent substance that just draws children (and adults!) to it? And it is more than fun as research shows that there are a multitude of benefits of playing with mud!
Sensory benefits of mud play
There’s no denying that part of the reason children love mud is how it feels. Picking up the gooey substance with their hands, squelching the mud through their toes, mud provides a multitude of sensory experiences for children, which in turn stimulates the brain. Children today receive a lot less sensory stimulation compared to children from many years ago due to a variety of reasons. Children who lack necessary sensory experiences can develop sensory processing issues which can affect them in many ways. It is more important than ever that we give children plenty of experiences involving their senses – touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing, as well as the two less-mentioned senses: vestibular (balance) and proprioceptive (sense of where each body part is in relation to the rest).
Learning through Play!
Aside from sensory benefits, mud also provides children with various other developmental benefits. Mud allows children to immerse themselves in their imaginations. To children, the mud can turn into anything! At Shaws Preschool, the mud kitchens allow children to engross themselves in pretend play. In one corner, children are whipping up a barbeque. In another , corner, the mud is an erupting volcano. Through this, the children are building creativity, as well as learning to socialise with other children. They may be working in a group to achieve a task, or they may playing alongside each other waiting for their turn to use one of the materials in the mud kitchen. Whatever is happening they are learning to work together. And while this is all happening, they are picking up language skills as they converse with their friends, Math skills as they pour mud from one container to the next, fine motor skills as they manipulate the mud and other materials, and much more!
“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful” E. E. Cummings
So mums and dads, when you walk past a mud puddle and your child stands next to it eyeing it longingly, don’t just let them jump in. Take of your shoes and jump in with them!
Liane Shaw, Director of Play