It is nearly spring! The snows have mostly melted here in Michigan, although it is currently snowing right now. We just had a week of warm, sunny weather (in the low sixties!) so the grass is starting to green up, and there were birds building nests. A good thing, too, because I brushed my shedding huskies outside, and created a huge mass of stray hair that looks a bit like dead rabbits. Now the birds can use the dog hair to soften their nests!
With the spring comes the mud. We lived down south for eight years, and springs there were absolutely stunning. There’d be redbud trees and wisteria and apple blossoms and tons of flowers, and spring actually lasted a couple of months, like it’s supposed to on the calendar. Not so up here. There are only a few weeks between winter and the humidity and heat of summer, and those weeks are marked by mud. Mud everywhere! You can’t walk anywhere without stepping in it.
There is some good to my tale, though. Mud is a wonderful toy! It’s cheap, plentiful, and educational! And kids really do need to get dirty; that’s why God made them washable.
Here are a few suggested mud activities to get your imagination going:
- Mud cakes. Bring your preschooler / toddler outside with a jug of water and some toy dishes. Let him make mud cakes. He can set the pans in the sunshine to “bake”. Then serve the mud cakes to a favorite (washable) toy or two.
- Construction. Bring out some Tonka trucks, or the smaller matchbox size construction vehicles, a jug of water and some small shoves or spades. Designate an area that is okay to dig up (not the rose bushes). Let your child push, dig, carry away, and remodel the area with his toys. Complete the activity by serving a lunch in a workman’s lunch pail and eat it outside.
- Farm. Bring out plastic farm animals, small tractors and the jug of water (to soften hard mud, or rinse off muddy toys before coming in). Let child design a farm with the tractor. “Plant” crops by sticking blades of grass of stems of leaves into the mud upright. Build fenced enclosures with sticks plopped into the ground. “Feed” the animals acorns or whatever nut falls to the ground in your yard.
- Art. Bring out wide paint brushes and jug of water. Let child mix water in a mud hole and paint the sidewalk with it. Rinse clean with a hose.
- Dug out. If you have the room, give your child a spot where he can dig a hole big enough to hide inside. Kids absolutely love hidey-holes! They are just as much fun as a tree house, but they can’t fall out of them. Later you can help your child build a roof by nailing some boards together. And much later, when your child has outgrown the dugout, you can turn it into a duck pond or plant a tree.
- Mud bath. Let your child fill a hole with some water and splash in it, and get totally completely filthy. Talk with him about what it feels like. Help him learn new words to describe it, like squish and mushy. Paint mud on his face and arms. Take a mud bath with him. Some people pay lots of money for this, and you can do it to yourself for free! Don’t forget to take some pictures. Your relatives will think you’ve lost your sanity, but your children will think you are the coolest mom on the planet.
Finally, don’t forget to wash up. You can hose off the worst of it outside, then rinse off in a shower, and finish off with a bubble bath soak to get all the grime out from beneath their fingernails. You’ve just created some wonderful memories, helped your child engage in sensory activities, and it didn’t cost a dime.