What better materials to use in your spring or summer sensory play activities than dirt? Seriously. It’s everywhere. Oh, and it’s free. You can’t beat that, right? Here is a quick setup for sensory play with mud you can do in your own backyard!
Mud Play Activity
One summer our garden was in a…well, let’s just call it a transition phase. That meant most of it was dirt. Following an afternoon of water sprinkler play, I had unhooked the hose and asked my then-3-year-old son to help me put it away.
As he pushed the nozzle lever down to get the remaining water out, he saw what happened when the dirt got wet – it turned into mud. And thus, the “mud factory” was born.
Yep, that’s what he called it. We spent the rest of the summer hosing down the dirt and playing in the mud factory. If you’re thinking, “Hey, I don’t have a large patch of dirt to use in my yard,” don’t worry. You don’t need it.
A large plastic bowl, some dirt, a water source and a few other items are all your kiddo will need to get totally into this summer sensory play idea. Oh, and your child can still do this activity in the rain.
Learning and Development
- Sensory exploration- sense of touch, sight and sound
- Fine motor- eye-hand coordination, grip, hand strength
- Science- Earth science, the scientific process
- Water – either from the hose or from cups that you refill
- A large bowl or bin
- Plastic spoons – or you can use kitchen or cooking spoons that you turn into play-only utensils
- Optional: Glitter, sequins, craft feathers, fallen leaves, flower petals, craft sand, tempera paint or twigs
How-To Activity Steps
- Before your kiddo jumps into making her very own mud factory, ask her to predict what will happen when she adds water to the dirt.
- Scoop the dirt out with the spoons and put it into the bowl.
- Start pouring the water into the dirt. Your child can explore and experiment with pouring the water fast and slow. She can stir fast and then slow. Remember, this is a sensory play experience. Encourage your child to put the spoon down and stir the mud with her hands. Ask her how it feels when she stirs it. Is it bumpy? Lumpy? Soft? Smooth?
- Keep playing! Your child can mold the mud or continue to add more water. Ask her to tell you what she’s observing as she adds the water and mixes the mud. Did her predictions come true?
- Optional: Add the glitter, sequins, leaves, craft sand, tempera, flowers or other natural materials.
Add in a literacy lesson, teaching your child about letters. How? Have her spread the mud out on the ground or in a flat, shallow pan. She can use her fingers to draw letters in it. After she’s done drawing a letter, she can smooth the mud back over the surface and write another letter.
Your child can also make numbers, draw shapes or create small pictures in the mud.
Are you looking for more sensory play activities? These ideas are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
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Erica is a mom, educator and parenting writer, with an MS in child development. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy creating kids’ activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.