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nature school project- mud pies and mud ball critters

In this Martin and Sylvia Nature School story, "Pretend Poetry", there has been a string of warm days where brother and sister live, and Sylvia wonders if Spring has arrived. Daddy — and then Sofia — assure her that Winter would return, but it isn't until Mrs. Brown explores the "pretend Spring" through Haiku poetry that Sylvia truly understands.

Playing with mud can be much like visual poetry. You can mold it and shape it just like you can words and syllables in a Haiku.

Noreen is back again with a tutorial about making mudpies and mudball critters.


mud-pie-stirring Digging your fingers into mud is one of those simple childhood joys that children never grow tired of. Some of my fondest memories are spending hours in our garden with a bucket of dirt, a watering can and an assortment of small containers. Now, I watch my own children and the children in my nature program get lost in the magical art of making mud pies and mud ball critters.

The best part of introducing mud play to your child is that you most likely already have everything your child will need. Even if you only have a small porch with no yard, you can get started with a bucket and a bag of top soil.

mud-pie-tools You will need:

-soil

-water

-cups, bowls, jugs, plates, muffin tins, pie pans, spice shakers, --recycled containers, sifters, spoons, etc.

-treasures from nature: leaves, flowers, grass, twigs, bark, berries, pebbles, seeds, seashells, etc.

How to Make Mud Pies

Step 1: Slowly add water to the soil until you reach the desired consistence. With younger children I sometimes pre-mix the mud to give them a good starting point for making mud pies. Other times I let them experiment and give them the freedom to mix the soil and water to their heart’s desire. mud-pie-muffins Step 2: Invite your child to gather treasure from nature with you, which is often half the fun. If you don’t have a backyard (and even if you do), gather materials when you are at the park or on a walk through the neighborhood. Some children like to keep their nature materials in small containers while others simply pile them up or add them all at once to their pie or soup. mud-pie Step 3: Sit back and watch as your child creates the most scrumptious dishes. My children often reproduce the meals we have recently made in the “inside” kitchen and love to show off their own versions. mud-pie-assortment Tip: “Washing dishes” just like mom and dad is a great way to transition to the next activity. A big bowl or bucket with water works well and the sun will take care of drying everything.

How to Make Mud Ball Critters

The idea for mud ball critters came from a group of children in my summer camps. One child proudly showed off her perfectly round mud ball. Another child said “Hey, that looks like a head.” Eyes, nose and mouth were added and mud ball critters were born. We have been making them ever since.

Step 1: Gather bits and pieces from nature with your child that can be used for eyes, nose, mouth, ears and hairs.

Step 2: Slowly add water to soil until the right consistency is reached. If it’s too dry, the soil won’t stick together. If it’s too wet it won’t hold it’s round shape.

mud-ball Step 3: Show your child how to shape a ball with their hands.

Step 4: Now, they are ready use the nature materials to turn the mud ball into a face. mud-ball-critter-2 This is a fun activity for the whole family, a birthday party or an afternoon spent with friends and neighbors. Why not create a whole mud ball critter family or set up an art show displaying everyone’s critter? And of course, you can always make up a story about your mud critter.

For more nature and play focused ideas that nurture your child’s imagination and creativity visit Entangled Harmony.

About the Author

Noreen Greimann
Nature School Blogger

Noreen Greimann helps parents fill their children’s life with magic and joy with her Back-to-the-Basics approach. Her short stories and activity series have become a popular resource for parents, and encompass 20 years of her experience coaching families with young children. She also shares her wisdom, experiences and ideas on her blog Entangled Harmony. When she is not writing, Noreen runs a nature program for children in Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband, two kids and several colonies of honeybees on an acre filled with gardens, tree forts and fairy houses.


Martin and Sylvia Nature School

As the summer comes to an end, Momma, Martin and Sylvia reflect on all the things they loved about the summer season: hikes, walks along the beach, blueberry picking, climbing trees and collecting bird feathers. Then Momma suggests that they keep the summer outdoor fun alive all year long: “Every Thursday, lets have Nature School!” And so Martin joins the Goose-eye Wilderness School, and Sylvia and her friend Sophia create a Nature home-school. From wild craft cooking to outdoor games to building projects to tree identification, Nature School will be a year of unfolding learning and fun.