Sensory play builds on fine motor skills, introduces early math and science concepts, and expands vocabulary. It’s a natural way for children to learn and play together. Mud can be an excellent medium for exposing your children to sensory play. Mud requires children to use all of their senses. Plus, playing in mud is just fun!
Try any of these five mud play activities at home with your toddlers or preschoolers.
1. Make Clean Mud
Try either of these recipes if you want to do an activity that has minimal mess. Both recipes make “clean” mud.
Clean Mud Recipe #1 Materials:
- 3 cups of baking soda
- Up to 1 cup of water
To make this clean mud all you need is baking soda and water. In a bowl, slowly add water to the baking soda until you have a mud-like texture. Be sure to add the water slowly and mix as you go, as it is easy to add too much. If you do add too much water, just add more baking soda until you reach desired consistency.
Clean Mud Recipe #2 Materials:
- 3 bars of ivory soap
- Roll of toilet paper
To make this clean mud, grate three bars of ivory soap. Have children tear up a roll of toilet paper. Mix the soap and toilet paper together with warm water until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes.
2. Dirt Dough
Toy bulldozers and shovels are ideal for this dirt dough activity!
- 16 oz. baking soda
- Brown or black liquid watercolors (or food coloring)
Add the desired amount of baking soda to a sensory bin or container. Add several drops of black watercolors or food coloring, and then slowly add water and mix. Slowly add more water until the desired consistency is reached. If you accidentally add too much water, just add more baking soda.
3. Muddy Car Wash
In this activity, children can drive toy cars through the mud and then race them to the car wash!
- Potting soil
- Liquid soap
To create the mud pit, add potting soil and sand to the sensory table. Then add water. Mix together to create the mud.
For the car wash, use another sensory bin and fill with water and liquid soap. For extra fun, use matchbox cars and create a ramp connecting the sensory table and car wash for children to drive the cars to the car wash. (You can use a yard stick or hot wheels track.)
4. Mud Painting
Create a messy piece of artwork in this activity!
- Potting soil
- Tempera paint
- Paint brushes
- Small containers or cups
Use potting soil and water to create mud. Then add a large scoop of mud to each container. Have children pick different tempera paints and add colors to the mud. Once the paint is ready, have them use brushes to paint on paper. A long sheet of butcher paper works well for this.
5. Make Mud Oobleck
Oobleck uses cornstarch and water. If you get the proportions right, the oobleck is solid when you touch it, and then turns to liquid and “melts away.” Little ones will be fascinated by the different textures!
- Unsweetened cocoa
Start by mixing 1 cup of cornstarch with ½ cup of water. Add a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa. (Add more water as necessary to create desired consistency.) Add pigs and other farm animals or dinosaurs for playing in the mud.
Mud play is a great way to help children make sense of the world around them. Not only is messy play beneficial for early development, but it’s also fun. Here are some other sensory activities to supplement mud play. Enjoy!