What is International Mud Day?
In 2009, Gillian McAuliffe, Pedagogista and Founder of Bold Park Community School in Perth, Australia, attended the World Forum for Early Childhood Care and Education. There, she had an insightful discussion with a Nepalese colleague about children’s challenges when playing together in the mud. After contemplating the obstacles between many children and their ability to enjoy the simple, natural act of playing in the mud (such as cultural preferences for cleanliness, lack of access to “disposable” clothing that can be dirtied and proper cleaning supplies, or dry, sandy geography not conducive to muddy conditions), she shared her experience with a group of 7 and 8-year-olds. Together, they raised funds to gift the children at Panchkhal orphanage in Bishnu, Nepal, clothing so they could play in the mud together. Now, every year on June 29th, children (and adults) across the globe celebrate International Mud Day as a way to connect and celebrate the natural joys of playing in the mud!
Reflecting on International Mud Day at Kodo
Kodo is no stranger to mud! Our educators understand the importance that active and messy play has on children’s development. As children move, mix, slip, scoop, and play around in the mud, they experience firsthand the transformation of materials (rudimentary chemistry), and changes in temperature (a measurable attribute), and as an added benefit they’ll have a wonderful shared experience with their peers! Play with mud and slurry often supports children to gain new understandings about the processes of absorption, solubility, and even evaporation. They may not use those adult terms, but nonetheless will have first-hand experience of these concepts as they play with these wonderful earthly elements.
Kodo founder Chris Hume remarks, “Mud Day provides so many opportunities for children to have new experiences and step out of their normal daily routines. On this special day, children are encouraged to get dirty, the opposite to what they are accustomed to. Often we see children hesitate and look to the adults for approval before they dive in. With this approval, they are empowered to truly explore by slathering mud on their arms and legs all while building enormous waterways and magical potions. By providing tools and containers we have seen children explore and experience mud play for hours on end. They come away with a deeper understanding of nature and new perspective on the definition of dirty.”
Tips for Creating Educational Moments:
- Invite children to dictate their slurry recipes to you
- Ask questions to fuel discovery:
- What does it feel like?
- How are you making it? What is your recipe?
- What tools are you using to make it, measure it, and mix it?
- How much will you make?
- How will you use it when you’re done?
- Use enriching vocabulary such as slurry, concoction, viscosity, soupy, gloppy, runny, squishy, etc.
How can you participate?
Mud Day was meant to be celebrated from anywhere in the world, and you can join the fun no matter where you are! We’ve found the easiest way to find a locally organized event is to search “International Mud Day” on Facebook and filter results as “events”. Having trouble locating an event near you? It’s easy to host an International Mud Day event on your own! On its most basic level, all you need is dirt, water, and friends!
Ingredients for a successful mud day event:
- There’s no such thing as mud day without lots of dirt! Topsoil can be found at hardware stores, on Craigslist, dug up from your backyard… and the more dirt, the better!
- To turn that dirt into mud, we’ll need water! Having a nearby hose is the easiest way to supply water for a muddy mess.
- You’ll need lots of dedicated space for play.
- Mud day is even better with friends, family, and neighbors – all ages should be welcomed and encouraged.
- Mud-approved attire is necessary – you can wear anything you don’t mind getting mucky! Swimsuits, t-shirts, shorts – if it’s parent-approved for making a mess, then it’s ready for Mud Day!
- Get active! Set up muddy slip and slides, mud crawl races, and other active events to help people dive right in!
- Tools like buckets, shovels, pans, spoons, and other materials can inspire dramatic play and creativity.
- An open mind, imagination, and patience – things will get messy, very, very messy, but very, very fun!
Insights and Advice from seasoned mud day celebrators:
- Be prepared! Store a stack of clean towels in a place separate from the muddy play. Bring a change of clothes for the car ride home.
- Have a good nozzle for your hose – this will make cleaning off much much easier.
- Resist the urge to jump in a pool while covered in mud! Your swimming pool’s plumbing and filter system will thank you.
- If you’re limited on space or concerned about containing the mess, fill a plastic pool with dirt and water. The pool won’t be able to completely contain every drop of mud, but it’s a better option than having no Mud Day festivities at all.
- Offer children a place to interact with mud or slurry that doesn’t involve immersing themselves in it. Everyone has a different level of comfort with sensory experiences. For some, participating in a small way is just enough!
- There’s a good chance someone will get upset, and it most likely won’t be a child. It can be overwhelming for some adults to see the mud and muck, especially when/if the mud starts to stray outside the designated play space into “clean zones”. Stay calm and keep it all in perspective – at the end of the day, a little dirt is proof of play!
So, will you be celebrating International Mud Day? If you do, please share your photos and help tell the world about International Mud Day! We’d love to see your Mud Day photos, and encourage you to tag @kodokids on Instagram or tag us on Facebook! Happy International Mud Day, everyone! Go out, get muddy, and have some fun!
International Mud Day History Source: http://www.boldpark.com/history-international-mud-day/