Firstly thank-you to everyone that took the time to read my first entry last week and all the wonderful supportive comments and interest, it really means a lot!
Mud at home!
This week I thought I would talk about something that is intrinsic to the little explorers ethos, the joy of Mud! One way we love to explore mud here is in the mud kitchen. The children absolutely love playing it in all weathers and in many imaginative ways.
We don’t have a fancy expensive or well made mud kitchen area, although I would love one. It has always been easier and more adaptable for us to have a flexible mud kitchen that moves around the area and follows the children’s developing interests.
One thing I have found about the mud kitchen is all the children spend ages playing in it daily. We’ve had Halloween & Easter themes, restaurants, ice cream parlours, dinosaur swamps, jungles, bug hotels and a very icy frozen mud kitchen to name a few. I’ve found by having a flexible and basic mud kitchen area the children are able to explore freely. They can select resources independently to follow their current interests.
The children totally absorb themselves in the sensory and explorative experiences this area brings and by observing their interests I can add resources and tools to support their learning.
When I first started researching mud kitchens I found myself quite overwhelmed by the range and prices and size! I only have a small outdoor space and even smaller budget, I used to search online, longingly window shopping for the perfect mud kitchen, something like this was my ideal goal!
But everything just seemed to big or too cumbersome and too expensive. I realised that all this time spent shopping or trying to source materials to build the perfect mud kitchen meant the children were just missing out. So one day I just grabbed an old discarded outdoor table…(my husband would argue it wasn’t old or discarded though, but luckily he doesn’t want it back now…). I added some pots and pans and brought over the massive planter pot that was full of soil along with the the water carrier. Added a few spoons and whisks from the kitchen and ‘ta da’ the little explorers mud kitchen was born and we haven’t looked back!
Mud in the great outdoors!
So not only do we explore mud at home we also can’t get enough of it in the great outdoors. We have Peppa Pig to thank for a whole generation of muddy puddlers. There is obviously lots of muddy puddle jumping which I’m pretty sure from extensive observations releases endorphins and reduces cortisol ! For both children and grown ups.
There are endless things to do in the mud and the children so love it. There are mud pies, mud digging, burying things in mud and digging them out again, mud sticks ,mud patterns, searching for mini beasts in mud and as we are very lucky to live so close to the beach there’s often getting stuck in the estuary mud too!
Mud is medicine
There is also real health benefits too. Recent research has shown that dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium Vaccae which stimulates the immune system and increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, which soothes, calms, and helps us to relax. I’ve seen the children endlessly stir muddy puddles with a stick and throw pebbles into muddy water and be so immersed they are themselves so chilled, it’s like a natural chill out zone.
Science shows that today’s sanitized world is actually contributing to increased levels of childhood allergies and asthma. Exposure to natural outdoor germs and good old fashioned dirt can actually support a child’s immune system to prevent allergies and illness. It is actually healthy for children to get muddy and as we know luckily children are 100% washable!
So it’s time to get out there and get muddy!
I’d love to hear your mud stories and I hope you come back next week for more little exploring.