International Mud Month happens in June and is a global movement which aims to encourage children and early childhood professionals to celebrate nature by getting outdoors to play in glorious gooey mud.
According to the World Forum for Early Childhood Care and Education an ever increasing number of children and early childhood providers participate in International Mud Month each year and use the day as an opportunity to get down and dirty in one of nature's finest toys.
International Mud Day traces its origins to the 2009 World Forum for Early Childhood Care and Education in Belfast, where two members of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children, Gillian McAuliffe from Western Australia and Bishnu Bhatta from Nepal discussed the challenges children faced when playing in mud in each other's context.
Gillian reflected on the lack of mud in dry Perth and also the reluctance of the culture to 'get dirty.' Bishnu on the other hand had lots of mud but many children did not have enough clothes to be able to get them dirty or soap to wash them.
On her return to Australia, Gillian who is the Director of Teaching and Learning at Bold Park Community School, told this story to a group of seven and eight year olds. The Bold Park children decided they could send clothes to the children in Nepal so that they could play in the mud.
Since then the two groups have celebrated a very special bond and played in the mud together, although in different countries.
Fast forward to 2015 and International Mud Day has grown into International Mud Month to enable more early childhood services to participate and to offer a greater number of children the opportunity to connect with nature through the sensory experience of playing with mud.
Given that International Mud Month happens in Winter in Australia there is usually plenty of mud around which makes it easy to schedule outdoor activities, but indoor activities could include creating a mud kitchen, mud paintings and mud sculpture. The most important thing is to advise the parents in your service so they dress their child in old clothes.
In addition to enhancing a child's bond with the outside world, muddy play offers children many learning opportunities including creativity and the opportunity to practice their fine motor skills. Children can be scientists, chefs, engineers, gardeners and artists when working in the non-judgmental medium of mud and an added bonus is that it is free!
For more information on International Mud Month: http://www.worldforumfoundation.org/mud-day-for-nepal/
For a whole stack of wonderful muddy ideas simply plug early childhood and muddy play into Google and you receive a wealth of inspiration.