As a child, I remember making mud pies in the backyard. What is it about mud sensory play and getting up to your elbows in messy fun?
This muddy play date is from Erin at Bambini Travel, who is sharing her muddy fun on The Jenny Evolution today and giving us the inside scoop on how to turn mud into the ultimate toddler playdate!
This post is part of the Sensory Summer series, hosted by The Jenny Evolution in partnership with The Sensory Spectrum. I encourage you to follow us all summer and visit our Sensory Summer landing page to get the latest sensory fun for your kiddos! This post contains affiliate links.
Mud Sensory Play – The Ultimate Toddler Playdate
To date, muddy play dates are still one of my all time favorite activities. Truthfully, I hate big messes and this is one of the biggest messes my kids have ever made, but it was worthwhile. All kids need sensory play and Summer is a great time to explore some new messy activities. You can take your play outside and then hose the kids and play space down afterwards.
- Dirt or Soil
- Bowls and cups of various sizes
- Sensory table, water table or bigger container
- Shovels and spoons
- Access to water – a hose is best
Choose your setting.
We did this on the cement patio in our backyard. I removed all of the patio furniture so I didn’t have to worry about any of it getting dirty.
Gather all of your materials.
Spread the bowls, cups, shovels, etc around the space.
Pour about half of the dirt into your sensory table.
I set the rest aside and we added more dry dirt to the table and bigger bowls later. Fill some of the smaller bowls with water.
Create a clean up strategy.
This will depend on your setting and the number of children. We primarily cleaned up with the hose but also carried the three kids to the tub afterwards for more cleaning. (Read the clean up section for more tips!)
The activity itself is simple. Invite your kids outside to play. My kids are not at all afraid to get messy, so I took off everything they were wearing except for their diapers.
They will likely be quick to figure out that they can pour the water into the dirt and it turns into mud.
Some play ideas include:
- feeling the texture of the dirt, mud, and water
- scooping and pouring mud
- filling containers and carrying them
- making imaginary food
Let them explore. Ask some questions (ex.”how does that feel?” “tell me about what you’re doing there!”) and narrate some of their play (ex. “You’re carrying that big bowl and it looks very heavy!” or “I see you piling the dirt in a tall mountain”). Help if they ask for assistance, add more dirt or water if it seems like it is needed, and observe.
If you have a child that is more hesitant to get messy, don’t be afraid to step in and play next to them or model some ideas for play. Using a spoon or cups to scoop the mud might be less stressful for a child who doesn’t like to get their hands too messy.
The most simple activities are often the most meaningful. Our three kids, all around the age of two, played for over an hour together. Their attention span, cooperation, and exploration was remarkable.
Things they are learning:
- Science: How the water and mud interact and effect one another.
- Math: Exploring volume and capacity with different sized containers.
- Motor: Scooping, stirring, carrying, balance
- Social: Sharing the space and materials with other people
This will be messy. It is a rare child that can play with mud without getting covered in mud. The patio, materials, and children were covered in mud. I say this not to scare you, but to make sure that you are prepared. Relax and enjoy the play knowing that you have a clean up plan.
- Scoop as much of the mud as you can either into the sensory table, buckets, or the garden. The kids can help with this.
- Use the hose to spray off the surface of your patio, driveway, etc. Clean the space first, then the kids. If you clean the kids first they will just keep getting dirty again.
- Hose off the children. Our kids thought this was one of the best parts.
- A bath is recommended at this point. You could get by with hosing them off really well, but a nice warm bath is easiest. Either wrap your child in a towel and carry them to the tub or for two I used to slide them in a laundry basket to the bathroom. In the bath, rinse off again before you put the plug in the tub. Let the muddy water drain out and then start again with fresh water for a soapy bath.
Erin Buhr is an early childhood educator, freelance writer and mama to twin four year olds. She is originally from the Midwest, but right now she lives in Mississippi where she enjoys spending time outside with her family and traveling to new places. Read more from Erin on www.bambinitravel.com.
SENSORY SUMMER SERIES
This post is part of the Sensory Summer series, hosted by The Jenny Evolution in partnership with The Sensory Spectrum. I encourage you to follow us all summer and visit our Sensory Summer series page to get the latest sensory fun for your kiddos!