Tuesday, November 5, 2013

MUD! Love it? Or Loathe it?

I recently received this article on mud from my daughter's childcare centre. I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you all.

I personally have not encouraged my children to play with mud. Mostly because they have decided to play with mud at inopportune times. Emily is a fan of making "soup" which is really just watery mud and the result is usually a very wet and muddy floor inside (which does not make me happy).

After reading this article I am seriously considering loosening up and making a mud area in the backyard. 

Dear Parents, this is why your children have been playing with mud today and their clothes are all dirty:

1. Mud makes you happy – In 2007 the University of Bristol found that ‘friendly’ bacteria in soil could actually be responsible for activating a group of neurons that produce serotonin, the chemical thought responsible for raising our mood. So mud could actually be an anti-depressant!

2. Mud provides a fantastic sensory experience. Mud comes in many forms; it can be dry or wet, clumpy and rough or soft and smooth. It provides endless options for experimentation and discovery, especially for our littlies who are learning about materials and textures. Littlies use information that they glean from sensory experiences, like playing with mud, to make sense of the world and understand how it all works. Mud is a great medium for this sort of sensory play because it provides so many different options.

3. Mud can help to build children’s immune systems. It is well documented that exposure to dirt at an early age is thought to boost the immune system meaning that children who are allowed to get dirty at an earlier age are less likely to suffer from allergies and are more able to cope with germs later on in life.

4. Mud connects us directly with the natural world. It lets our kids get up close and personal with nature, discovering different mud in different places, the creatures that live in the mud and the plants that grow in it. Worms go hand in hand with mud and are a constant fascination for many kids. For lots of us they factor in some of our earliest memories of playing outdoors. You can also have some great discussion about how mud needs worms and how important worm casts (aka worm poo) is!

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5. Mud inspires creativity. The wonderful thing about mud is that it can be anything you want from a mud pie to a mud house. It can be a bath or a soup; you can make it into faces or use it to paint with. It is a brilliant opportunity to allow your kids to let their imagination run free and see where their creativity takes them.

6. Mud provides benefits for physical development too. Walking in mud is a tricky prospect and a great way for any youngster to build on their gross motor skills. They learn how to balance and the best way to place their feet to ensure they stay upright and don’t sink. Mud can be a great place to slide around in, attempt to swim in or simply feel on their feet. The use of tools for digging and buckets for transporting also supports these skills encouraging youngsters to stay active and use their whole bodies in play. Fine motor skills are also developed with mud play, from stirring a mud recipe to create a mud mural; kids use all those delicate fine motor movements to create their own masterpieces.

7. Mud is a great place for social play. Playing in mud can create opportunities for real co-operation in play from cooking and sharing a mud feast to playing tag in the mud. It provides so many different creative opportunities to play together. Why not have a mud make-up party, build a mud castle or create a working mud construction site with toy trucks?
8. Mud is fun! Throwing mud, sliding around in it, building things and cooking things all made of mud are great fun. There are lots of giggles to be had playing in mud and it’s a great opportunity for Mum and Dad to let their hair down and get messy too.

So what do you think? Is it time to get muddy?

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