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Get Your Hands Dirty on International Mud Day!

Little girl playing in mud
Photo from the Mud Gallery at

When was the last time you and your kids went outside, let go all of your worries and played in the mud? Can’t remember? Then you, too, should celebrate International Mud Day, a global effort to get kids outside and up to their elbows in good, clean fun.

International Mud Day, celebrated on June 29, was born in 2009 at the World Forum for Early Childhood Care and Education. Two members of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children, Gillian McAuliffe from Western Australia and Bishnu Bhatta from Nepal, discussed the value of outdoor play for children.

The creators were inspired in part by National Paddy Day in Nepal, a festival that marks the beginning of the rice planting season. Since rice is grown in shallow, flooded lots called pads, planting is a muddy activity. The people of Nepal make a celebration of splashing and playing in mud as they plant rice seedlings and sing folk songs. The joyous day ends with entire communities coated head to toe in mud.

It’s the sort of unstructured nature play children in Western countries might never get to enjoy–and that’s too bad! There’s a lot of fun to be had in getting absolutely soaking wet and coated in dirt.

Not convinced? Science says there’s actually harm in keeping kids too clean. Childrens’ immune systems need to be exposed to pathogens to train them in what is a real threat and what is harmless. An overly sanitized environment can lead to the development of allergies, asthma and inflammation later in life. Obviously, children need to live in safe, healthy, clean spaces, but humans were built to live and work outdoors. As long as you hose them off at the end of the day, a little mud will likely help more than hurt your kids.

So, how should you celebrate International Mud Day? You’ll need some mud–surely we don’t need to offer instructions on how to make it. Offer your kids buckets, old containers, large spoons or sandbox shovels. You can either pick a corner of your yard you don’t mind turning into a mud pit, or you can try to keep the worst of the mud on a vinyl tablecloth or in a kiddie pool, plastic tub or wheelbarrow.

To get your kids started, you can suggest activities like painting mud murals on butcher paper, building mud castles and mud cities, and cooking up mud pies and other muddy delectables. This is one day where a long list of suggested activities isn’t the point–the goal is to let kids be kids and play with mud!

Enjoy International Mud Day–and don’t wait another year to celebrate again.

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