“WE SPENT FIVE YEARS adventuring down the west coasts of the Americas exploring permaculture, community place making, natural building and Earth arts. Now we are back in the UK making pizza ovens and tiny houses, working with communities and children.
Mud makes kids happy, it’s inclusive, and exploring it is a natural instinct. We are innately driven to discover our world and 60% of the Earth’s surface is clay. Playing with mud allows children to express their creativity – there are no right or wrongs – to use their intuition, and to learn without fear of failing. The how is in the doing, in the process is the discovery, it never ends. Not only does this play encourage a love for the Earth, but it’s stimulating for the senses, improves kinetic and social skills and tunes motor actions. Playing outdoors with mud boosts the immune system which can help prevent allergies. There is even research that shows that a bacteria found in soil activates the neurons in the brain that release serotonin, the endorphin that soothes, calms and helps us relax. Everyone reacts differently to mud. Some children may enjoy the feeling of mud between their toes while others are only comfortable poking a finger into it. Most children immerse themselves in the creative process. Often they become little project managers and take great pride in their creations.
Earthy play ideas
✽ Dig a mud bath, fill a paddling pool with mud and water, or create a mud kitchen.
✽ Mud can be moulded to create endless sculptures! Change the consistency for different projects.
✽ Village building activities are fun. Collect natural materials such as stones, twigs, leaves, bark and use these with clay to create little houses. We use ice cube trays to make little adobe earth bricks.
✽ Look for the different colours in the ground, and start your own coloured earth collection to use in art making.
Mud Paint First you need to make a wheat paste binder, for this all you need is flour and water.
1 Boil 1 litre of water.
2 While this is boiling add 500g white flour to 500ml cold water mix well to remove the lumps.
3 Add this mix to the boiling water and mix well.
4 Turn down the heat and keep stirring to prevent burning the paste, once liquid has thickened remove from the heat. That’s the wheat paste ready!
5 Now add 1 part wheat paste to 1 part (sieved) clay earth, or add 1 part sand to create a textured paint. Thin with water if required. Mud paints can be used on all sorts of surfaces; cardboard, paper, wood, murals, muddy hand prints or to decorate structures you have created – go wild!
Find more about Muddy Fingers here