Playing in mud is not what a typical mom wants her kids to do. The thought of dirty clothes and dirty kids is daunting for most. But mud is a fantastic sensory experience for children and I thought I’d give it a little spin by turning it into a dough. Believe it or not adding the extra ingredients made the mud easier to clean up and left mine and my children’s skin feeling buttery soft!
This article was inspired by the 8 Nature Activities and Crafts for Kids round-up posted on Sow Sprout Play a couple of days ago. I realized that my twenty-three-month-old twins have not had many experiences with nature and I wanted to come up with a fun way to do it!
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How to Make Mud Dough
I added one cup of water and one cup of vegetable oil into a large plastic bin. We all went outside and began scooping up some dirt. Our dirt was extremely moist so we needed to add many cups of it to get everything to incorporate nicely. I am not sure how much dirt we used but it was probably around six cups. Even after that the dough was too moist and very watery. I decided to add some cornstarch to help dry the dough out a bit.
If you have dry dirt you wont need as many cups to make your dough. I suggest adding one cup at a time and mixing as you go. Use cornstarch as needed for dirt that is extra moist. Kneed all of the ingredients together creating a moldable mud dough.
How They Played
In the past I haven’t involved the kids in the dough making process. This time I decided to let them help, but they were getting a bit frustrated at me for “hogging” the dough when I needed to mix it and kneed it together.
While I was still preparing the dough my daughter ran off to play on a dirt hill while my son poked a the dough with a spoon. At this point I decided to add the cornstarch to help dry it out. I gave my son, SD, some cookie cutters for him to push into the dough as I formed mud dough balls.
It didn’t last long because SD saw that his sister, SN, was off having fun climbing dirt hills and walking behind bushes. So he ran to go join her. I didn’t mind too much since the whole point of the activity was to have them explore nature, which was exactly what they were doing.
Once they were done exploring we decided to bring the mud dough back to our apartment patio where they could focus a bit more on the activity. SD continued to poke at and scoop the dough as SN dug into it with her little fingers. I made them mud balls and SD was so excited! He took a mud ball and threw it yelling “ball!”. Oh boy! This could get messy! Meanwhile SN took the remaining mud balls and began piling them up on top of each other. It was fun seeing her create.
I loved that the mud dough not only had dirt but also stringy roots and other natural fibers mixed in. This added some interesting elements into their sensory experience. All around my toddlers had fun exploring nature by playing with the mud dough and climbing the dirt hills, I’m hoping to give them more nature experiences in the near future!
Looking for more sensory play ideas? Check out all of Sow Sprout Play’s sensory play activities.
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