The Mud Magic: All-Weather Play For Children

Bond with mud, the source of oodles of activity, creativity, joy and sensory fun.

Engage with mud in its various avatars – powder, gooey, sticky, liquidy.

Let mud stimulate your creativity by making and your sense of adventure by playing.

So said Dirty Feet‘s mail announcing the ‘Magic of Mud’ activity under its NATURE SCHOOL programme.

My wife and I swear by the immense power of mud. A material with many textures and forms, it offers tremendous scope for all rounded play.  It is rather unfortunate that it is one of the most under-rated play-mate for children. And in the increasing concrete jungles of India, opportunities for kids to revel in it are on the wane.

So, when we saw the opportunity to be a part of the above activity, we enrolled immediately. The morning of Friday was meaningfully spent making MASTI with MUD:)

Bonding

Kids accompanied by parents and in some cases, even grandparents came from different parts of the city to revel in this activity. After a round of quick introductions, Dirty Feet’s team welcomed all the kids by handing them cookies… yummy… just that the cookies were all made with mud. The kids’ disappointment at being handed over such cookies gave way when they realised that the cookies were packed with surprises for the kids – Dirty Feet badges – the kids yipped with glee and the day began.

Dirty Feet’s first activity was all about overcoming fears and inhibitions. It was pretty much effective in fuelling the wild curious side of the kids by giving them a free hand to dig in and to explore nature’s treasures from mud mounds, slush-filled tubs and muddy waters.  Some eager to get messy, some reticent and reluctant to even touch – but nonetheless, the mudhunt was well planned to get all the kids going.

From muddy waters to sticky to powdered mud and back again to where they began, the kids moved among different stations and enjoyed each of these textures.  They were all totally involved in picking up natural treasures – stones, pebbles, seeds, seed pods, shells, flowers, sticks, feathers and of course comparing their stuff with that of the others. Those who were initially unsure about taking part in the entire exercise were now unmindful of the mud dripping from their elbows and fingers!

Creating

In the next session, kids got to do a whole lot of stuff with mud – pounding, sieving, mixing with water and making doh. They drew shapes in mud powder, wrote their names and used it as a filler in designs. They filled bottles with it and made rattles. What followed were balls, towers, puppets and sculptures too. It was interesting to watch mud take the shape of each their imaginations.

It was then time for painting. Large white papers were kept ready with mud paint in plates. Children started painting on white paper with their fingers as paint brushes. What next? The children dipped their palms and started creating their hand imprints. What next? The Dirty Feet team showed that hand imprints can be created on clothes worn by them as well. Immediately, the children went gung ho giving each other memories of the day. What next? Footprints, of course.

In the end, children were dripping with mud and making/drawing/painting, whatever and where ever they wanted to.

Playing

Pithoo, marble shots – the children focused on getting their targets right with mud. In the tub game, kids were required to throw stones in a tub filled with gooey muddy water. It was a sight to see it splashing out of the tub as children threw stones into it. They loved it and just wouldn’t have enough of it. They went on and on.

This was followed by a game of mud musical plates. Children went around them and when the music stopped, they had to put their hands into it. For the last round of the game, the tub filled with gooey muddy water was brought forth and then the kids jumped into it for a mud bath.

Magic of mud

The morning spent in the company of mud was a reaffirmation of our belief that children enjoy the simple pleasures of life the most, if only they are given an opportunity and exposure to.

Children are a happy lot when they are left to being their own selves sans the paraphernalia of adult life. It is the right of every child to get messy with mud and make mudful memories:)

What’s your take?

PS: The girls did not fall ill after all that exposure to mud. I agree that it would have virus/bacteria/disease inducing germs. However, I also believe that it is sterile and sanitised environments that lead to reduced levels of immunity in children and not just the other way round.

My prescription for a well-rounded childhood – loads of outdoor play with mud and water!

One thought on “The Mud Magic: All-Weather Play For Children”

  1. Sir, thank you for this write-up. As I began reading, I could see the events of that day unfold in front me. Thank you for reminding us of the beautiful moments of that day. We had done lots of ground work for preparing for this event. The joy of the kids and the response of the parents made it totally worthwhile for us. Hoping to see you and your twin daughters dirty your feet again and again with us…yours thankfully Dirty Feet Team

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