Parachute Play the Nursery Rhyme Way

Nursery rhymes have been around for centuries and are a wonderful way to promote a variety of literacy skills—oral language development, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. Parachute play provides children with important physical activity and exercise while building gross motor skills, coordination, perceptual motor skills and muscle development. And let’s not forget the social interaction that occurs when using the parachute. It creates an instant circle, allowing everyone to feel a part of the group and encouraging eye contact and interaction between all participants. So let’s combine nursery rhymes with body movements using the parachute. Everybody hold on to the edge of the parachute and start singing and moving.


Parachute Play

 

The Wheels on the Bus
The wheels on the bus go round and round (hold parachute with one hand and walk around in a circle)
The door on the bus goes open and shut (pull chute forward and backward)
The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep (two feet together jump/bounce in place)
The windows on the bus go open and shut (raise parachute above head and lower parachute by touching toes)
The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish (hold parachute with 2 hands in front of body and move arms from side to side)
The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa (pretend to wipe eyes with parachute—like a handkerchief)

 

The Grand Old Duke of York (Tune: “A-Hunting We Will Go)
Oh, the grand old Duke of York, (all hold parachute and march in place)
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of (raise parachute above head)
The hill and he marched
Them down again. (pull parachute down and touch toes)
And when they were up they were up. (raise parachute above head)
And when they were down they were down. (pull parachute down and touch toes)
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.  (everyone half-way up)

 

Sally Go Round the Sun
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
Sally go round the sun.
Sally go round the moon.
Sally go round the chimney tops
Every afternoon.
BOOM!  (all fall down)

 

London Bridge
(children go underneath the parachute while adults lift and lower it above their heads)
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

(adults move parachute back and forth above the heads of the children underneath)
Take a key and lock her up,
Lock her up, lock her up.
Take a key and lock her up,
My fair lady.

para_3

 

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider
The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout. (raise parachute above head)
Down came the rain (lower parachute below waist)
And washed the spider out. (with parachute at waist move arms from side to side)
Out came the sun (raise parachute above head)
And dried up all the rain. (with parachute at waist shake it up and down)
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again. (raise parachute above head)

 

Ring Around the Rosy
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
Ring around the rosy,
A pocket full of posies.
Ashes, ashes!
We all fall down! (all fall down)

(while sitting on ground, holding parachute, singing)
Cows are in the meadow,
Eating buttercups.
Thunder, lightning!
We all jump up! (jump up while sliding voice from low to high and lifting parachute).

 

Pop Goes The Weasel
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
All around the cobbler’s bench,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought it all in fun,
Pop! goes the weasel. (stop walking, stand in place and pop parachute in the air) 

(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel. (stop walking, stand in place and pop parachute in the air)

 

Product Recommendations:
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 6’Dia.
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 12’Dia.
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 20’Dia.
Parachute Play Pack
Nursery Rhyme Wooden Characters – Set of 26
Wheels on the Bus Book & CD Set
The Itsy, Bitsy Spider Book & CD Set

Advertisements

Active Play: Take a Hike!

FamilyHiking

July is Park and Recreation Month, and this year’s theme is, “OUT is IN.” So let’s celebrate and GO OUTSIDE! The outdoors offers an opportunity for our children to play, exercise and grow in a natural way. Our parks play a critical role in nurturing an appreciation for the outdoors in our children. Explore all that the local parks in your neighborhood, community and county have to offer. Then, expand your horizons to include state and national parks and forests. As I write this, I am at our annual family reunion in the Tahoe National Forest, and we are engaging in many fun outdoor activities: swimming, fishing, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and lots of hiking. Hiking or walking are healthy sports that almost all people, young and old, can participate in, and which will last you a lifetime.

The benefits of a long walk complement our physical, mental, social, and emotional health.

  •  Improves cardiorespiratory fitness (including heart, lungs and blood vessels).
  •  Improves muscular strength and endurance.
  • Provides opportunities to unplug from digital technology and spend quality time together.
  •  Offers multisensory experiences.
  •  Instills an appreciation of nature and the beauty found in the outdoors.
  • Helps children understand realities of natural systems.
  • Improves cognitive development by sharpening our awareness, reasoning and observational skills.
  •  Increases the production of endorphins in the brain and relieves stress, resulting in a euphoric state of mind.
  • Enhances self-esteem.
  • Sparks creativity and imagination.
  • Fosters language and collaborative skills.
  • Renews our sense of wonder.

Don’t forget to bring binoculars, magnifying glasses, and a bug jar to aide in the observation of your discoveries.

Wildflower Finds
In early summer, Summit wildflowers are spectacular, particularly in the seeps on the north side of Mt. Lincoln.

flowers

Nature’s Sweet Nectar
Grandson Tate showed me how to eat a honeysuckle. As he said, “You don’t actually eat a honeysuckle, but suck out the flower’s nectar.”

  • Pull off the bottom green part that holds the petals together.
  • You will see the tail of a “string” and you need to slowly pull it out from the petals.
  • At the end of that string you will find nectar.
  • Lick and enjoy!

boy and flowers

tate

tate 2

Stick Tent
Granddaughter Jill found a tent structure made of sticks in a little clearing. The perfect little hideaway.

hut

Geocaching
Uncle Tony just found his 5,000th geocache on this trip. He told the grandchildren the GPS coordinates and they found the treasure under a bunch of bark not far from the hiking trail. Treasure hunting is such fun!

geocatching

geo 2

A View From the Top
We finally made it to the top of the summit, and the reward was well worth it. Just look at the view!

lake

Happy Trails!

sharron

Go Fly a Kite!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite
Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite

“Mary Poppins” {1964 Disney film}

go fly a kite 1

The month of April has been declared National Kite Month by the American Kitefliers Association and the Kite Trade Association International.  Kite flying is great fun and a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring. You can buy a kite or make your own.  There are many different kinds of kites, but I am going to focus on the simple Diamond Kite…like the ones I remember from my childhood and that you see my grandson, A.J., flying with his grandfather, Papa Steve, above.

Making and flying kites is an educational adventure!  You can learn about science, physics, math, history (think Benjamin Franklin and The Wright Brothers), culture, weather, ecology, art, and aesthetics.  

Kite Basics

A kite is a heavier-than-air object that flies… just like an airplane.  The Diamond Kite has  4 main components:

  1. Frame
  2. Kite covering
  3. Tail
  4. Bridle & line

go fly a kite 2The kite body is made up of a framework and outer covering.  The framework is usually made from a lightweight material like wood or plastic.  Paper, fabric, or plastic is then stretched over the framework, turning it into a sort of wing.  The bridle and the control line help the kite flyer control the kite.  In flight, the kite is connected to the kite flyer by the control line, which is connected to the kite by the bridle.  The kite pivots and dives about the point where the bridle connects to the control line.

How Kites Fly
Kites need wind (moving air) to fly.  When a kite is lifted by the wind, the wind pushes against the whole surface of the kite to lift it up.  To find out if there’s enough wind to fly a kite, go outside and look up. If you see leaves blowing on trees or flags waving sideways, it’s probably good kite-flying weather. When the wind is strong enough to move a flag, it’s moving at 7 to 18 miles per hour. That’s just right to lift a typical kite.  You can make your kite dance across the sky by pulling in and letting out the line.

How to Fly a Kite

  1. Stand with your back to the wind. Hold your kite up by the bridle point and let the line out. If there is sufficient wind, your kite will go right up. Let the kite fly away from you a little, then pull in on the line as the kite points up so it will climb. Repeat this until your kite gains the altitude necessary to find a good steady wind.
  2. For younger children or if there is light wind, have a helper take the kite downwind and hold it up. On command, the helper releases the kite and the flier pulls the line hand-over-hand while the kite gains altitude.
  3. If there is no helper, prop the kite up against a bush, post, or wall. Reel out enough line for altitude and simply pull the kite aloft.
  4. If the kite sinks tail first, there might not be enough wind. If it comes down head first or spins, there might be too much wind.
  5. Adding tails to your kite helps it remain stable in stronger wind. Use light-weight materials so you can use lots!
  6. Be sure your kite is put together correctly or it may not fly.

Kite Safety
Parks, beaches, and open fields are great for flying kites. The more room you have, the more line you can let out.  It is each kite flier’s responsibility to think about safety and what you are doing.

  • Be considerate of others.
  • Be aware of who or what is behind you as well as in front of you.
  • Kite lines conduct electricity so do not fly near overhead power lines.
  • Never fly in rain or lightening.  Electricity in clouds is attracted to damp kite lines.
  • Always fly away from other people, kites, kite lines, and kite fliers.
  • Never fly with your line across a road.  If the kite comes down, you can cause a serious accident.
  • If you do tangle lines with another kite, don’t yank the line or it might break.  Fliers should walk together and the tangle will slide right down the line to where you can unwrap it.

Decorate a Kite
Decorate this easy-flying “blank canvas” polyester kite with paint, markers,  stampers and stamp pads, and stickers. Then assemble and lift that kite into the bright blue sky and let the breeze take it and you wherever it may.  Have fun!

kidskite

Product Recommendations:
Decorate a Kite – kit for 12 (KIDSKITE)
Colorations® Super Stamper Classroom Pack (STAMPACK)
Colorations® Washable Stamper Markers Bucket – 44 pieces (STAMPBUCK)
Colorations® Permanent Marker classroom Pack – 84 pieces (PERMPAK)
Colorations® Fabric Paint – set of 12 (FABSET)
Colorations® Fabric Paint Classroom Pack – set of 100 (FABPACK)
Colorations® Washable Chubbie Marker Classroom Pack – set of 30 (COLORMRK)
3-D Gem Stickers – 2150 pieces (RAZZDAZZ)

Frozen! Winter Art Activities

Yes, the children will let you know that the blockbuster Disney movie, Frozen, can be an inspiration for anything and everything cold and icy. You don’t need any cryokinetic powers to produce ice and snow. Depending on where you live, just venture outside or open the freezer. Most of these activities take little or no preparation…and remember, it’s the process, not the finished product…so “Let It Go” if you think the end result is for children to make something that looks like something recognizable (i.e., providing a pattern of a snowflake or snowman to use with the art medium).  Have fun discovering the science in these activities while exploring with art!  As Olaf said, “Some people are worth melting for.”  I think the children will agree.

frozen 1 frozen 2 Rainbow Snow Painting
Fill spray bottles half full with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ (do not dilute the color by adding water). If you have snow, go outside and have fun spray-painting snow. If it gets too cold and fingers in mittens don’t work too well with the trigger sprayers (my favorite sprayers are the ones from Ace® Hardware), let the children scoop the snow in buckets and bring it inside to your water table. Spray away. Observe how the colors blend to make new colors. Way cool!frozen 8

Paintsicles
Squeeze Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ or BioColor® into ice cube trays. Cover trays with aluminum foil and insert craft sticks (poke through foil) into each cube. Place trays in freezer overnight. Pop paintsicles out of the trays. Provide heavy white paper or tagboard and using the craft stick as a handle, children paint the entire paper with bright blocks of color.

frozen 3

Ice Designs
Draw designs on heavy white paper with a washable marker. Using plain ice cubes, children “paint” over the designs and watch how the colors soften and blend..frozen 4Ice Castles
Materials Needed:
Ice—cubes, blocks, etc.
Table salt
Rock salt
Kosher salt (optional)
Eye droppers
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™
Sensory tub or water/sand table
Small containers/cups to hold the salt and Liquid Watercolor™

Procedure:

  1. Freeze water in a variety of sizes and shapes of empty containers—plastic bowls, jello molds, cardboard milk containers, ice cube trays, etc. In cold climates, children could put the containers of water outside to freeze.
  2. Empty the ice shapes and ice cubes into the sensory tub or water table.
  3. Place small cups of salt and rock salt in the tub.
  4. Place small cups of Liquid Watercolor™ in tub.  Add an eye dropper to each cup.
  5. Problem solve with the children how best to use the ice to form ice castles, deciding which blocks of ice would be best on the bottom and which would work better on the top.  Children can sprinkle the salt on top of each chunk of ice before adding another piece.  Talk with them about how the salt begins to melt the ice.  Then when another piece is added, the water refreezes and becomes part of the newly added piece of ice, helping it to stick together creating ice castles.
  6. Children then use the droppers to drop the Liquid Watercolor™ into the cracks and holes created by the rock salt and salt making a colorful kingdom.

Learning Outcomes/Desired Results:

    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Discuss the chemical reaction that ice has when salt is sprinkled on it.  Salt lowers the freezing point of ice, causing it to melt.
    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Solids transforming into liquids.
    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Mixing primary colors (red, yellow and blue) you make the secondary colors (orange, green and purple).
    • Physical-Fine Motor Skills: Using small muscles (pincher grasp) in fingers to squeeze the bulb of the dropper and to pick up grains of salt and chunks of rock salt.
    • Physical-Fine Motor Skills – Eye-Hand Coordination: Hands and eyes working together to accomplish a task; using fingers to manipulate dropper with color and squirting colors into salt crevices.
    • Cognitive-Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: Some children will have difficulty in figuring out how to get the color into the dropper and then onto the ice. Handling the eye dropper will be a challenge, so they should be shown how to use it and encouraged to keep trying until they succeed.
    • Language Development: Children talk excitedly about what they see happening.
    • Encourages creativity and persistence.
    • Social/Emotional Development: Fostered as this is an open-ended activity with no right or wrong way to do this activity.  It promotes children’s self-esteem.

frozen 5 frozen 6 Nature’s Frozen Beauty
Freeze nature items (leaves, pine needles, flowers, berries, small rocks) in silicone cupcake liners or an aluminum or silicone cupcake/muffin tray. Let the children put items (flower, leaf, etc.) of their choice into each of the cupcake liners. Then fill them halfway with water. Before putting them into the freezer or outside, insert a paper clip (open half-way) into each cupcake liner that will be used to hang up the frozen decorations. Once frozen, pop them out of their mold (cupcake liner or tray) and decorate your outdoor environment by having the children hang them on tree branches, fences or whatever else will support the icy decoration. As the temperature warms up and the sun comes out, the children will observe and discover what happens to their once frozen beautiful decorations.frozen 7

Product Recommendations:
Ultimate BioColor® Creativity Kit (BCKIT3)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Classroom Favorites Pack (LWKIT4)
E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz. – Set of 6 (TSBOT)
Super Safe Plastic Droppers – Set of 12 (12SSD)
6 Paint Cups in a Base (PNTCPS)
Best Value Sand & Water Activity Table – Medium (LWTAB)
Sand and Water Buckets  – Set of 6 (BUCKSET)
Indestructible Scoops – Set of 4 (SCOOP4)
Regular Craft Sticks – 100 Pieces (CRAF)
White Sulfite Paper – 500 Sheets ((A80SU)
Extra Sturdy Tagboard – 100 Sheets (9WT)
Colorations® Super Washable Chubby Markers (16CHB)

Cool Bean Bags!

Once you put one of these super sensory bean bags in your hands, you’ll quickly discover why they are nicknamed COOLBEAN. Each bean bag is covered with soft chenille fabric nubs, making them irresistible to the touch. Grasp them, squeeze them, and listen to the crinkling sound they make. They come in 4 bright colors and are the perfect size and weight for tossing and catching. COOLBEAN definitely engages the senses—vision, hearing, touch and kinesthesia (sense of body’s movements). What also makes Excellerations® Super Sensory Beanbags “really cool” is that they are for children ages 18 months and up and are even washable!

Benefits of Using Bean Bags:

  • Younger children may find bean bags easier to handle than a ball. A bean bag is usually smaller and softer than a ball; consequently a child has less fear of being hit or hurt.
  • Because bean bags can’t roll away, they may be less frustrating for the child with poor coordination skills.
  • Catching and throwing a bean bag helps a child develop the skill of grasp and release.
  • A bean bag will help a child develop the hand strength required for handling a ball.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

  1. Gross motor skills: using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk
  2. Fine motor skills: using the small muscles of the of the body (eyes, hands, fingers) to perform specific movements such as throwing and catching
  3. Hand-eye coordination: hands and eyes working together smoothly to meet a challenge
  4. Balance: being able to hold the position of the body through the interaction of muscles working together
  5. Laterality: understanding of the differences between right and left and being able to control the two sides of the body independently and together
  6. Kinesthetic awareness: inner messages from the muscles, tendons, and joints received by the body in order to move
  7. Listening skills: ability to follow verbal directions

Here are some fun and challenging bean bag activities for young children. In next month’s post, I’ll share several games that you can play using bean bags.

Bean Bag Toss

Child tosses bean bag upward into the air and catches it before it hits the floor. Child first catches it with two hands. Child then attempts to catch the bean bag with one hand and then the other hand. The height of the toss should increase as the child’s skill improves.

Child tosses the bean bag back and forth across the body from one hand to the other. The height of the toss and the distance between hands should increase as the child’s skill improves.

Child tosses the bean bag into the air, turns around and then catches it. Challenge child to clap hands once, and catch it. Ask child to clap hands twice, then catch it.

Bean Bag Throw

Place a hoop on the floor, lean it against a wall or hang it up. Have child step back and throw a bean bag into the hoop. With each successful throw encourage the child to take another step back to make it more challenging.

Attach a target to a wall. I like to use one of the Excellerations® Pair-a-Chute. Keeping his “eye on the target,” the child throws bean bags at the different colors on the parachute.

Bean Bag Catch

Find a partner and play catch with the bean bag. Remind the child to use only his hands to catch and to keep his eyes on the bean bag. Play catch with your partner throwing underhand. Play catch with your partner throwing overhand. This time, stand close to your partner and play catch. If you catch the bean bag without dropping it, take a step back. If you drop it, take a step up. See how far apart you can get playing catch with your partner.

Using both hands, one child holds a bucket or basket. Let the other child toss bean bags to the child holding the bucket, who attempts to catch each one in the bucket.

Bean Bag Balance

Have child place bean bag on a body part—head, arm, shoulder, elbow and walk in the open space or on a designated line marked out on the floor.

Try a crab walk with the bean bag on the tummy or a creep like a cat with a bean bag on the back.

Bean Bag Jump

Have child place bean bag on the floor. Ask the child to jump forward over the bean bag. Ask them to jump backward, then sideways. You can repeat this series several times.

Have child place bean bag between their knees and jump forward like a kangaroo.

Product Recommendations:

Excellerations® Super Sensory Beanbags (COOLBEAN)

Brawny Tough Activity Hoops (HOOPSET)

Excellerations® Pair-a-Chute (PAIRUP)

Classroom Activity Baskets (CATCHY)

Sand and Water Buckets (LBUCKRED)

A Round of Applause for Active Learning!

“When someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy.

                                                                                                Samuel Goldwyn (film producer)

Praise, reward and cheer your students without candy or presents. Recognize children by praising (express warm approval or admiration) the positive things they do. Children appreciate a teacher’s affirmation that they are doing a good job and what better way than involving all classmates in celebrating their participation in an activity or game.

Remember, creative teachers aren’t born, they’re made by the teacher next door. The following ideas or “cheers” I have learned from other teachers but have added my own little twist. Use them often as the children never tire of them. Encourage your students to make up their own. Jump for joy. Sing and shout. Hip! Hip! Hurray! Let’s Celebrate! 10 Cheers for Learning!

A Round of Applause

Clap hands in a circle in front of body. Clap other shapes—A Triangle of Applause, A Square of Applause, etc.

A Pat On the Back

Everyone put one hand up in the air. Now put it on your back and give yourself a pat on the back!

Roller Coaster

images-10

Lean head back like going up a roller coaster. Cup hands and fingers like holding onto a pretend lap bar. Make “Ch ch ch ch ch” sound as arms and hands climb above your head. When they reach the top, swoop arms down and say “Wooooooo!”

Na Na Hey Hey Good Job (song: “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”)

Wave arms back and forth above head and sing, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey, hey-ey, good job!” Repeat song and replace “good job” with “goodbye.” This one is my favorite as I am known to my six grandchildren as Nana Banana!

Firecracker

images-8

Hold palms together vertically in front of body. Make a sizzling sound (Ssssss) as you wiggle your palms in the air like a firecracker going off. Clap hands above head like a firecracker exploding. Wiggle your fingers down like the sparkles coming down from a firecracker and say child’s name in a high pitched voice or make the “Ahhhh” sound like people watching fireworks might do.

Sprinkler

Put your left hand on the back of your head. Stick your right arm out and begin to sweep the arm horizontally making a “Ch ch ch ch ch” sound while jerking the right arm in front like a rotating sprinkler. When your right arm can go no further to the left, clap hands back fast to the beginning on the right.

Stomp, Stomp, Clap (song: “We Will Rock You”)

If children are dispersed in the room after being engaged in an activity, have them move back to their seat stomping their feet and clapping their hands while saying, “Stomp, Stomp, Clap.” “Stomp, Stomp, Clap,” over and over until they reach their seat. As they move, sing “You Are, You Are, Awe-some.” “You Are, You Are, Awe-some!”

Truck Driver

images-12

Tell children to turn on the engine with their pretend key. Grab your steering wheel and make a “Rrrrrr” sound as you pretend to turn the wheel and drive. Hold up right hand and pretend to pull on a horn and say, “Honk honk.” Next put fist by mouth like it’s a CB radio and say, “Good job, good buddy!”

Hamburger

Unknown-5

Stick out your right hand, palm down—this is your hamburger patty. Put left hand under the right hand and wiggle fingers like a flame, and say “sizzle, sizzle, sizzle” moving the hamburger patty across to one side of your body. Ask, “Is it done yet?” Turn right hand over and say, “Not yet!” Move hamburger patty to the other side of your body with left hand sizzling underneath. Ask again, “Is it done yet?” Say, “Yes,” and with both hands, give a thumbs-up and say, “Well done!”

Fan-tas-tik!

10688

Tell the children to get out their bottle of fantastik® spray cleaner and hold it in their right hand. Have them move the pretend bottle back and forth across their body as they spray, saying “You’re psh, psh psh…” (spray once for every ‘psh’). Hold up the other hand, palm facing out and pretend to wipe in circles over the liquid and say, “Fan-tas-tik!” “You are fan-tas-tik!”

Goals/Learning Outcomes:

  • Promote emotional development
  • Nurture social skills as all children participate together
  • Reduce discipline problems by redirecting children in positive ways
  • Engage movements across the body’s midline
  • Focus children’s attention, sending blood and oxygen to the brain
  • Develop eye-hand coordination
  • Facilitate language development
  • Build self-esteem and confidence

emodolls

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:

Excellerations® Emotions Plush Dolls (EMODOLLS)

Excellerations® Moods & Emotions Classroom Set (MOODS)

Know Your Emotions Books (EMOBKS)

Being a Good Citizen Books (CITIZEN)

Excellerations® Emotions & Moods Posters (EMPC)

Excellerations® Changing Emotions Block Puzzle (CHANGES)

Dirt + Water = Mud-luscious!

SK Internat Mud Day Post

On Sunday, June 29, children all over the world celebrated International Mud Day by getting messy with mud — one of nature’s best play materials!

Playing in dirt and mud is actually healthy for you.  Researchers now recommend playing in the dirt as a way to boost the body’s immune system, that digging in the dirt (and even ingesting a little bit of it) actually can help decrease a child’s risk of allergies and asthma.  The basis for this stems from the idea that limiting child’s play to primarily the indoors limits their exposure to natural organisms that build a healthy immune system.  In addition to the physical health benefits, dirt and mud play simply makes a person happier.  Recent studies report that children are spending 90% of their time indoors and more than 8 hours per day in front of a screen. Let’s get the kids outside and decrease stress and anxiety, decrease obesity and depression, build a strong immune system, and have fun!  International Mud Day reminds us that we should embrace mud play every day.  Here are ideas to bring mud play into your early childhood program—

Mud in the Sensory Table:

SK Internat Mud Day Table

Buy some clean fill, black dirt or potting soil and dump into your sensory/sand and water table.  Add child sized gardening tools, an array of containers, flower pots, artificial flowers, rocks, seed pods, sticks, plastic insects or dinosaurs.

Mud Patch:

If you have the room and the resources create a permanent digging patch.  You can buy the dirt from a nursery or building supplier.  Mix in approximately 1/3 sand to 2/3 soil to provide a more “diggable” mix.

•  Make mud castles, houses or forts using buckets and assorted containers.  Use sticks for supports.  Include tunnels, secret rooms, and even a moat.

•  Make rivers and dams.  Dig a river in the dirt and add water.  Build a dam to form a small puddle.

•  Bring in the toy trucks and props to create a construction zone.

Mud on Cookie Sheets/Baking Trays or Art Trays:

Create personal mud patches, smooth with hands and watch kids finger paint in the mud, write in the mud with sticks, make mud prints by placing mud-covered hands and feet on a clean sheet of paper, drive a toy car through the mud…the possibilities are endless..

Mud Painting/Art Ideas:

•  Set out an easel or find a large cardboard box.  Instead of paint, fill your paint cups or sand buckets with mud and let the children explore with brushes or their fingers to make mud paintings.  Add items from nature (leaves, petals, pine needles) to mud paintings creating a mud collage.

•  Make mud balls by shaping mud into balls by rolling the “dough” in your hands. Decorate the balls with flowers, leaves, rocks, or small twigs. Stack the mud balls on top of each other to create a unique sculpture.

Cooking in the Mud Kitchen:

SK Internat Mud Kitchen 1

Similar to your indoor/dramatic play housekeeping area, the kitchen requires a cooking appliance—an old plastic stove or box made into an oven.  If you can find an old cabinet or dresser, the children will have a place to work and store materials. Tree stumps or tree cookies can also be used as table surfaces.  Old pots and pans, mixing bowls, spoons, utensils, funnels, and other kitchenware give the kitchen an authentic feel and offer lots of different opportunities for play.

SK Internat Mud Kitchen 2

•  Make Mud Pies & Cupcakes—use old cake or pie tins, muffin tins, and even shallow plastic containers.  Once the pies or cupcakes are “baked,” it’s time decorate them with pebbles, petals, and leaves.  Yum!

•  Make Mud Stew—collect dirt, grass, leaves, twigs, and acorns in a large container.  Add some water and Soup’s on!

There are so many benefits of mud play besides the tactile, sensory experiences of squelching mud between fingers and toes. Children develop hand-eye coordination, learn about cause and effect, have fun co-operating, communicating, socializing, sharing, problem solving, discovering, laughing, experimenting, building, negotiating, imagining, and yes, getting a little dirty in the process.  If you find it hard to allow mud play in your early childhood program, you are depriving the children of a childhood that is well-lived and messy!

SK Internat Mud Day Hands

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Best Value Sand & Water Table – Large (BVST18)
Brawny Tough Art Trays – Set of 5 (RECTRAY)
Colorations® Air-Tight No-Mess Paint Cups – Set of 10 (10PC)
Natural Bristle Brushes – Set of 10 (10PCB)
Colorations® Indoor/Outdoor Adjustable Acrylic Panel Easels (4WAPE)
Jumbo Dump Truck (BIGTRUCK)
Construction Trucks – Set of 3 (TRUCK3)
Sand and Water Buckets (BUCKSET)
Premium Sand Set – 51 Pieces (SET51)
Classroom Starter Kit – Medium Animals (MEDANI)
Papier-Mache Flower Pots – Set of 12 (MACHEPOT)