Yesterday my son took advantage of all the recent heavy rains and began entertaining himself in a mud patch.
Mud play is about fun, it engages all the senses, and should be a normal part of outdoor play.
Fun fact: Playing in mud boosts the body’s immune system. According to the “hygiene hypothesis,” children raised in extremely clean environments, who have little exposure to the bacteria, viruses and parasites found typically found in mud, are more likely to develop allergies and asthma.
AND the rich, engaging sensory play children participate in while playing with mud allows them to express their creativity while enhancing their fine motor skills.
Nature Play QLD recently published their research about the benefits of kids playing in the mud, and why they have an inbuilt need to play in mud.
“There is evidence suggesting that mud play is a basic biological need, and this type of play has many physical, psychological and emotional benefits for children.
MUD MAKES YOU HAPPY – New research has shown that exposure to friendly soil bacteria (Mycobacterium Vaccae) stimulates the immune system causing the brain to release serotonin, the endorphin used to regulate mood.
MUD INCREASES BRAIN ACTIVITY – When children play with mud they use all of their senses, resulting in a highly stimulated and active brain.
MUD INCREASES PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – When children play outdoors, and in mud, the incidental movement and physical activity increases, helping children maintain a healthy lifestyle and develop their physical literacy.
MUD REDUCES YOUR SUSCEPTABILITY TO DEPRESSION – Given the link of the friendly bacteria in mud and its ability to make you happy, scientists say that regular exposure to mud will reduce a child’s vulnerability to depression.
MUD REDUCES ALLERGIES & ASTHMA SYMPTOMS – There is increasing evidence that today’s society is “too clean”, and that this is a contributor to increased levels of childhood illnesses, including immune disorders and allergies.
MUD PLAY BUILDS CREATIVITY – The open-ended nature of mud play is perfect for the developing brain. There is no end to the creations, ideas and games children will invent. During this type of unstructured, outdoor play, children are not only exercising but are building their ability to form ideas, problem solve, and think critically, as well as be innovative and inventive.
KEY DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES ACHIEVED THROUGH MUD PLAY – As children grow through their formative years, mud play will help them achieve many key developmental milestones, such as fine and gross motor skills, sensory awareness, balance and coordination. Mud play will also create opportunities to practice social skills and help children to make sense of the world.
FOUNDATIONAL LEARNING THROUGH MUD PLAY – While playing with mud, children are learning and testing theories, as well as developing foundational understanding of maths and literacy.
MUD PLAY CAN REDUCE CHILDHOOD ANXIETY AND STRESS – There is now scientific evidence linking the restorative effects of outdoor play, which can reduce levels of anxiety and stress in children.
MUD PLAY CREATES CHILDHOOD MEMORIES – Positive childhood experiences while playing outdoors will help to create and strengthen kids’ concept of the outdoors, and reinforce the intrinsic benefits and interest in playing outdoors and being active.
BUILDING AN ADVENTUREOUS SPIRIT THROUGH MUD PLAY – While kids are braving the mud, sloshing and squelching around, they are challenging themselves, expanding their experiences and in turn, their world. Instilling and nurturing this constructive foundational style of critical thinking and risk assessment in children builds and strengthens their values and attitudes toward adventure, and develops important skills that can be carried through to adulthood.
MUD BUILDS A CONNECTION WITH NATURE – Playing with mud is a foundational activity that could lead to children further developing a strong and empathetic connection with the natural environment.
MUD IS FUN! For most children, mud play is intrinsically fun, plain and simple. While adults like to understand the full sphere of why mud play is so good for our children, kids will just instinctively play in it. Especially when their parents encourage them to! Children don’t need to understand why this type of play is important to their development. What’s important is that we provide opportunities for them to do it – and give them permission to get dirty!
Parents and carers know that how our children play is important. We all know we need to find ways to get our kids moving.
MUD PLAY is amazing, not only it delivers a great play experience for our kids, but it’s easy and affordable to get involved.”