4 Ideas for Muddy games with kids

The idea of actively encouraging children to play in mud makes the colour drain from many parents’ faces. We get it – everybody will definitely need a thorough wash by the end! But the benefits for kids and their development are huge. Need persuading? The benefits include: 

  • Emotional Development (encouraging creativity through drawing, painting, and sculpting in mud).
  •  Cognitive Development (building problem-solving skills through negotiation, communication, and sharing).
  • Physical Development (through using both fine and gross motor skills weighing, measuring, mixing, transporting, reaching, and adding ingredients in a mud kitchen).
  • Social Development (through listening and turn-taking in this sensory experience).

Convinced yet? You should be! Check out our list of 6 great mud play ideas to inspire adults and carers to indulge in a little more mess…

Mud Painting

This is a brilliant way for children to improve their dexterity by holding a paintbrush and mark-making, and also to learn that some things are temporary. We love pinning up a big white bed sheet (an old one!) to the garden wall (you can spread it flat on the floor, too) and mixing up a big tub of mud with water. Kids love mark-making on a grand scale, and the dark mud against white has a real impact. Chuck the sheet in the wash at the end and it’s all ready for another day’s painting!

Mud Kitchen Café

Whether you invest in a hardy outdoor Mud Kitchen such as ours or create something temporary, mud kitchens provide an outdoor play scenario that can help children improve their fine motor skills, roleplay, exploration, social skills, imagination, and much more. A mud kitchen cafe is a brilliant way to go with big groups of kids. Get them to think of a name for their cafe and choose a few ‘menu items’ to cook up (think mud hot chocolates, mud cakes, and ‘garden-decorated’ salads) – you can even print out a copy of their menu, draw it up on a blackboard, or get them to hand-draw their menu on some brown packing paper. Then take it in turns to be seated (at tables and chairs or on the floor) and let the ‘cafe owners’ take orders, make food and serve.  

Turn your Mud Kitchen into a Garden

Kids love to take control and see their hard work become something tangible. Save up plastic supermarket containers from soft fruits and veggies (or raid the shed for some old plant pots) and buy some seeds (the quicker-growing, the better). Get your little green-fingered gardener to sow some seeds as the packet directs, and wait a week or so to see the results. Great options for quick results include cress, herbs like coriander, and radishes.

Potion/Perfume making

A childhood favourite. Roam your garden or local landscape, allowing your child to pick fragrant leaves and petals (ONLY EVER PICK plants you know to be safe). The rules of foraging are that you may forage on public land as long as you don’t pull up the roots – and never take where there isn’t plenty. Handfuls of fragrant rose petals, the sharp sweetness of meadowsweet or elderflower, the cool, cleanness of mint, the savoury notes of sage, rosemary, and thyme…any and all of these can be collected (and enjoyed in the process) before you return home to your mud kitchen and make potions, or perfumes (simply add ingredients to old jam jars with water). If you have a pestle and mortar so they can grind up all their ingredients, all the better!

We hope this Landscapes for Learning blog encourages you to embark on some messy play and muddy games with your child.