Mud

Muddy Faces loves mud! Right from the start we’ve been campaigning to encourage mud play and play with natural materials in the every day lives of children.

Liz Edwards, Muddy Faces, and Jan White, Natural Play, have been running a Mud Campaign since 2011, promoting play with natural resources and, in particular, mud. We identified that very few settings were facilitating play with natural resources and hardly any settings had mud kitchens. So we decided to change this….

Jan wrote the content of Making a Mud Kitchen (see tab below) and Liz added photos and designed the book. Muddy Faces then printed and distributed 18,000 free copies of the Making a Mud Kitchen book. In addition there have now been over 20,000 downloads of the book from our website, and it’s been translated into many different languages.

Jan and Liz are over the moon with the success of the campaign! Now you can see mud kitchens in most Early Years settings and many primary schools; you can go on mud kitchen workshops; read a variety of books, and articles in magazines are common.

We continue to run this campaign through provision of resources and promoting involvement with International Mud Day on the 29th of June each year through our e-newsletters and online activities.

Use the tabs below to explore Mud and the whys, hows and wherefores of mud play, along with some inspiration for bringing mud and messy play into your setting.

A-Z mud play

Inspiration & ideas for activities, covering every letter of the alphabet!


the word mud written in mud

Creepy Crawly Recipes

Free printable sheets for children to make up their own creepy crawly recipes.


Mud Kitchen Menus

Free printable PDF menu templates for mud kitchen role play.


• play • learn • grow: dirt & mud activities for kids

30 links to mud activities to celebrate International Mud Day, including mud slides, pies, kitchens and art. From Growing a Jewelled Rose.


Theme station: mud

A selection of mud-related activities covering a broad range of curriculum areas, from PreSchool Express.


Muddy case studies

The work carried out at different settings, on a day-to-day basis, can be fascinating. Here are some examples of mud play, mud kitchens and Mud Day events in action.

We hope these case studies will inspire you to develop the confidence to get children outdoors and interacting with natural materials in your setting more. Click on a title to read the full story.


Mud Day at Tighnabruaich Primary School in Scotland

The rewards of involving children in planning – plus lessons learned for future mud events.


children in waterproofs paddling in the mud

Mud Day celebrations at a woodland playgroup, Staffs

A woodland play setting, with an established mud kitchen, finds other ways to celebrate & suggests some things to think about.


a woman and 2 kids using their hands to paint mud onto a sheet

Mud Day celebrations at multiple venues in Bradford

Communication and compromise can lead to a successful mud event bringing together a range of settings.


3 boys covered in mud

Mud kitchen & digging patch at a kindergarten in Australia

Redevelopment of the whole site was the perfect time to create these excellent mud resources, with donated time & kit


children pouring mud from one bowl to another

Mud kitchen & loose parts in a preschool garden in Wiltshire

A mud kitchen, combined with access to nature, a veg patch, and plenty of loose parts, greatly enhances opportunities.


a veg garden

Mud kitchen at Ashton Keynes Preschool, Wiltshire

With inspiration & the confidence to ask for support & donations, setting up a mud kitchen can be simple to do.


child pouring water from a kettle into a bowl

Mud patch at a primary school in NI

Creating and maintaining a muddy digging patch was a priority at this newly-built primary school.


two children in waterproofs, one sitting in the middle of a mud pit

Mud play opportunities with an independent childminder

Clothes will get muddy – if parents know what to expect they can bring what is needed.


water puring from a drainpipe into a teapot

Making a Mud Kitchen

Everything you need to know about mud kitchens – what, why, where and how.

This informative book, full of excellent illustrations and inspiration, is available to download for free. Click for your free pdf:

Making A Mud Kitchen


Making A Mud Kitchen Cover

Chapter titles

Just Do It! – Guidelines for Creating a Mud Kitchen
Choose the Place
Make the Space
Fit it Out
Places to Find what you need
Get Busy In It!
Being a Good Assistant
Delving into the Meanings of Mud Play
Keeping it Safe and Healthy
Children’s Books to go with Mud Kitchen Play


Jan White

Jan White is the author of Making a Mud Kitchen. Jan is a specialist in early childhood outdoor provision from birth to five. janwhitenaturalplay.wordpress.com

Jan and Liz Knowles from Muddy Faces have been collaborating on the Mud Campaign for many years.


photo of Jan White

Extract from Making a Mud Kitchen

“There is little more important in our physical world than earth and water and they are truly intriguing things, especially when they interact. Mixing soil, water and a range of other natural materials has a foundational role in early childhood which has deep importance and endless possibilities for well-being, development and learning. The breadth and depth of what these experiences offer young children is truly remarkable.”


Translations

We’re delighted to have had Making a Mud Kitchen translated into seven different languages so far!

Scroll down to download your free pdf in
• Greek • German • Hungarian • Italian • Portuguese • Spanish • Welsh.


Download the Greek translation

Ελάχιστα είναι τα πράγματα στον φυσικό μας κόσμο που είναι πιο σημαντικά από τη γη και το νερό, και αυτά είναι αφάνταστα ενδιαφέροντα, ειδικά όταν αλληλεπιδρούν αναμεταξύ τους. Η διαδικασία ανάμειξης χώματος, νερού και μιας ακόμα άλλης ποικιλίας φυσικών υλικών, έχει θεμελιώδη ρόλο στην πρώιμη παιδική ηλικία, η οποία βέβαια καθίσταται υψίστης σημασίας και απείρων δυνατοτήτων ως προς την ευημερία, την ανάπτυξη και τη μάθηση. Είναι πραγματικά αξιοσημείωτο το εύρος και το βάθος που προσφέρουν αυτές οι εμπειρίες στα νέα παιδιά. Οι λασπο-κουζινούλες παρέχουν κάτι εντελώς διαφορετικό από ένα απλό σκάψιμο στο έδαφος, ενώ επίσης είναι και πολύ πιο εύκολα διαχειρίσιμες. Μια λασπο-κουζίνα περιλαμβάνει στοιχεία της πολυαγαπημένης οικιακής γωνιάς και του μαγειρέματος από το κλασσικό παιχνίδι εσωτερικού χώρου, τα οποία τώρα παρουσιάζονται εξαιρετικά πιο εμπλουτισμένα λόγω της ιδιαίτερης φύσης του να βρίσκεται κανείς έξω. Οι λασπο-κουζίνες μπορούν να λειτουργήσουν αποτελεσματικά καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια του χρόνου και πρέπει να θεωρηθούν ως ένα κεντρικό στοιχείο μίας συνεχούς παροχής υπαίθριων δραστηριοτήτων.


Download the German translation

Es gibt nur wenig mehr Bedeutsames in unserer physikalischen Welt als Erde und Wasser und diese sind wahrlich faszinierende Dinge, besonders wenn sie aufeinander wirken.
Erde, Wasser und eine Vielfalt anderer natürlicher Materialien zu vermischen spielt eine große Rolle in der frühen Kindheit, welche große Bedeutung und unendliche Möglichkeiten für das Wohlbefinden, die Entwicklung und das Lernen hat. Die Breite und Tiefe, die diese Erfahrungen den Kindern ermöglichen, sind wirklich bemerkenswert.
Matschküchen bieten etwas ganz anderes im Vergleich zur Buddelecke, während die Matschküche gleichzeitig auch viel einfacher zu handhaben ist. Eine Matschküche beinhaltet Elemente der vielgeliebten Haushalts- und Kochecke des Innenraumspiels, welche dann durch den speziellen Charakter des Spiels im Freien enorm bereichert werden. Matschküchen funktionieren ganzjährig und sollten als Kernelement für die stetig zur Verfügung stehende Draußen-Ausstattung gesehen werden.


Download the Hungarian translation

Translated by Ivett Korvacs.

Nem sok fontosabbat találunk fizikai világunkban a földnél és a víznél, melyek igazán lenyűgöző dolgok, különösen, amikor kapcsolatba lépnek egymással. A földnek, víznek és számos más természeti anyagnak a vegyítése alapvető fontosságú a gyermekkor korai szakaszában, hatalmas jelentőséggel bír, és végtelen lehetőségeket kínál a belső harmónia, a fejlődés és a tanulás terén.
Döbbenetes, hogy milyen széles skálájú és mélységű élményeket nyújt a kisgyermekeknek. A sárkonyhai játék egészen más tevékenység, mint egy sáros pocsolya, amelyben dagonyázni lehet, ugyanakkor sokkal könnyebben is kezelhető. Megtalálhatóak benne a csoportszobában rendkívül népszerű kiskonyha és otthon-sarok elemei, melyek sajátos gazdagságot nyernek a szabadban tevékenykedés különleges ízétől. A sárkonyhák egész évben jól működnek, ezért a kültéri játéklehetőségek alapvető részének tekinthetőek.


Download the Italian translation

Translated by Michela Schenetti.

Nel nostro mondo fisico ci sono pochi elementi più importanti della terra e dell’acqua, e questi sono veramente interessanti, soprattutto quando interagiscono. Mescolare la terra, l’acqua e tutta una serie di altri elementi naturali è fondamentale nella prima infanzia, dove ricopre una profonda importanza e apre infinite possibilità per il benessere, lo sviluppo e l’apprendimento. Queste esperienze offrono ai bambini una varietà di vedute ed una profondità esperienziale veramente notevoli. Le cucine di fango rappresentano qualcosa di molto diverso da un ‘fazzoletto di giardino da scavare’ e sono anche molto più facili da gestire. Una cucina di fango include elementi di quel tanto amato angolo domestico e dei giochi da cucina che vengono però enormemente arricchiti dalla sensazione speciale di trovarsi all’aperto. Le cucine di fango funzionano bene tutto l’anno, e hanno bisogno di essere considerate come un elemento fondamentale nella continuità delle attività all’aperto.. Le cucine di fango non hanno bisogno di essere ricche, ‘ricercate’, di certo non hanno bisogno di costare molto. Non esiste nulla che possa battere la semplicità e il potere di crearsi una propria, unica cucina partendo da oggetti rimediati, ricevuti in dono o ritrovati. E ricordate, le migliori cucine di fango sono realizzate in collaborazione con i bambini che le utilizzeranno!


Download the Portuguese translation

Translated by Lúcia Santos.

Há poucas coisas mais importantes no nosso mundo físico do que a terra e a água, que são coisas realmente intrigantes, especialmente quando interagimos com elas. Misturar terra, água e toda uma variedade de outros materiais naturais tem um papel fundacional na infância pelas profundas e infinitas possibilidades de proporcionar bem-estar, desenvolvimento e aprendizagem. A amplitude e profundidade do que estas experiências oferecem às crianças é verdadeiramente notável.
As cozinhas de lama oferecem algo bem diferente de áreas de terra para escavar e são mais fáceis de gerir. Uma cozinha de lama inclui elementos da área interior da casa, que é enormemente enriquecida pelo facto especial de estar na rua. As cozinhas de lama funcionam bem durante todo o ano e devem ser vistas como um elemento central a disponibilizar continuamente no exterior.


Download the Spanish translation

Translated by Josefina Prieto.

Hay pocos elementos tan importantes en el mundo físico que nos rodea, como la tierra y el agua. Ambos son fuentes de curiosidad e intriga, especialmente cuando interactúan.
La mezcla de tierra, agua y una variedad de otros elementos tiene un rol fundamental en la infancia temprana: una profunda importancia e infinitas posibilidades de bienestar, desarrollo y aprendizajes. La amplitud y profundidad que estas experiencias ofrecen a niños y niñas es excepcional. Las cocinas de barro proveen algo bastante diferente a un “pozo de barro”, además de ser mucho más fácil de mantener. Una cocina de barro incluye elementos del querido rincón del hogar y la cocina del interior de las aulas, los cuales son tremendamente enriquecidos a través de la naturaleza propia de estar al aire libre. Las cocinas de barro resultan útiles a lo largo del año, y deben ser consideradas como elementos centrales a la hora de proveer oportunidades de actividades continuas en el exterior.


Download the Welsh translation

Nid oes llawer yn fwy pwysig yn ein byd corfforol na phridd a dŵr ac maent yn bethau gwirioneddol ddiddorol, yn enwedig pan fyddant yn rhyngweithio. Mae gan gymysgu pridd, dŵr ac ystod o ddeunyddiau naturiol eraill rôl sylfaenol yn ystod plentyndod cynnar sydd â phwysigrwydd dwfn a phosibiliadau diddiwedd ar gyfer lles, datblygiad a dysgu. Mae ehangder a dyfnder yr hyn y mae’r profiadau yn cynnig i blant ifanc yn wirioneddol anhygoel. Mae ceginau mwd yn darparu rhywbeth eithaf gwahanol i ddarn o dir i gloddio pridd, tra hefyd yn cael eu rheoli’n haws o lawer. Mae cegin fwd yn cynnwys elfennau o gornel hoffus deuluol y cartref a choginio o chwarae dan do, sydd wedyn yn cael eu cyfoethogi’n fawr drwy’r natur arbennig o fod yn yr awyr agored. Mae ceginau mwd yn gweithio’n dda drwy gydol y flwyddyn, ac mae angen eu gweld fel elfen graidd o ddarpariaeth barhaus yn yr awyr agored.


International Mud Day is 29 June

Celebrating glorious mud! In 2009 at the World Forum for Early Childhood Care and Education in Belfast the idea of International Mud Day had its beginnings…. read on for more…


International Mud Day logo

World Forum Foundation: Mud Day

History, resources, logos, stories and photos – from the instigators of the whole thing, from an idea in 2009.

Some World Forum Foundation mud resources include:

World Forum Foundation Connection Centre logo

It’s OK to get dirty – inspiring little video featuring children relishing getting muddy.

The Wonder of Mud – reflections from Nepal and Australia, 2010.

Mud Book – lovely, inspiring book with tons of photos (pdf to download).

Who Likes Mud? – a jolly, illustrated storybook relaying how different animals & people love mud for all sorts of reasons (pdf).


International Mud Day Facebook page

Join the online community.


Mud Day is the Best Day in the World!

Lovely extended feature in the 2013 Wonder – newsletter of the World Forum Foundation’s Nature Action Collaboration for Children, with international reflections on the day.


Mud Day Song!

Created by Boldpark Community School in Australia – who also have this History of International Mud Day page.


Bold Park community school logo

Oh My Mud! The History of International Mud Day

History, and insights and tips for running your own event. From KODO.


Practical Wisdom: Gillian McAuliffe

One of the creators of International Mud Day, and founder of Bold Park Community School,  talks about the history of the day – there are also some great videos to watch here.


Gillian McAuliffe

There have been many, many articles written about the benefits of mud play – just type ‘children’ and ‘mud’ into your search engine and you’ll find tons – here’s a selection of those we’ve gathered over the last few years.


A Dirty Kid is a Happy Kid! Why Everyone Should Play in the Dirt

This article links to several pieces of relevant, interesting research. From The Primal Parent, 2011.


Dirt is NOT Dirty – How Playing in the Dirt Benefits the Immune System

The benefits of playing with dirt and why children are drawn to it. Wake Up World, 2015.


“Outdoor learning for children might be breaking into the mainstream – and having seen the benefits first-hand, I’m thrilled”, says Guardian writer Patrick Barkham, discussing his children’s award-winning outdoor nursery and forest school. 23 October 2017.

Making a mud kitchen 
The mud centre
Mud, marvellous, mud

– the benefits of mud play. All from Community Playthings.


Community Playthings UK Logo

Let your kids get dirty

Five ways (of many) that dirt can benefit your children, and tips for doing it. From The Art of Simple, 2010.


Marvellous Mud

by Rusty Keller. A warm, engaging article on the joys of a mud patch. In Childcare Exchange, 2011.


The Mud Center: Recapturing Childhood

Extensive reflection on the development and creation of a mud play facility, with references. From Community Playthings, 2005


Mud Play

How to create a mud patch; appropriate clothing; informing parents; mud activity ideas, and useful links, from Early Childhood Ireland.


Why your kids need to play in mud this summer

Mud play benefits children in five crucial ways – paying tribute to this ooey gooey carpet-staining substance. On Kaboom, 2013.


Mud Day letters & posters

We’ve developed these simple resources to save you time when organising a Mud Kitchen or International Mud Day event. You may freely use and adapt them to suit your setting but please do credit us: www.muddyfaces.co.uk. Thank you. Click to download:

Mud Kitchens Facebook group

“This group has been set up for anyone interested in play with natural materials especially Mud. Please post any mud play stories, tips and photos.”

Muddy Faces founder Liz Edwards set up the mud kitchen facebook group back in 2013. It’s a closed group but everybody muddy is welcome to join.


Let’s cover social media with mud!

Join in our fun social media campaign.
Share your #MuddiestPhotoOfTheDay. Tag us for a re-share.

We love connecting with you on social media.
Tag us for a Like and/or a share of your muddy/Forest School/outdoor play posts.

Facebook: MuddyFaces
Twitter: @MuddyFaces
Instagram: MuddyFacesUK
Pinterest: Muddy Faces

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy

Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential. From Gardening Know How.


Bacteria Found In The Soil Activated A Group Of Neurons That Produce The Brain Chemical Serotonin

Treatment of mice with a ‘friendly’ bacteria, normally found in the soil, altered their behavior in a way similar to that produced by antidepressant drugs, reports research published in the latest issue of Neuroscience. From Medical News Today, 2007.


Children should be allowed to play in the dirt, research suggests

Scientists have discovered that bacteria on the surface of the skin play an important role in combating inflammation when we get hurt. The Telegraph, 2009.


The dirt on dirt: how getting dirty makes for healthy kids

Article citing research into messy play as an immunity booster and mood enhancer. By Sarah Punkoney (c2012) on Stay at Home Educator.


The dirt on dirt – how getting dirty outdoors benefits kids

Well-referenced report from the National Wildlife Federation (US) on the positive effects of messy play on the physical and mental health of children. 2012.


Mind healing: the psychological benefits of getting dirty

Review of a book by microbiologists saying parents should ease up on hygiene. The Telegraph, Nov 2016.


Mud Baths for Healthy Children?

This wickedly messy and deliciously calming activity has been shown by scientific studies to offer some important health benefits. From International Make Cities Livable (IMCL),


Playing in dirt and mud builds a child’s immunity

Parents who are paranoid about hygiene are not doing their children any favours. Exposure to germs is essential for healthy child development. By Laura Twiggs in Child Magazine (SA) (c2011).


Shiny mud balls 

Kyoto Professor Taps into the Essence of Play. Hikaru Dorodango could offer fresh insights into how play aids children’s growth.
(October 5, 2001)


screenshot of an article on Japanese mud balls

Why kids and mud are the perfect pair

Dirt is dirty, but our kids need it. Links to research showing kids who play in the dirt are healthier than those shrouded in a germ-free bubble. From familyshare.

Risk assesments

A range of documents by different authors offering an introduction to the concept of risk benefit assessments, plus some templates for assessments, with a particular focus on mud kitchens.

The templates are working documents, offering you ideas rather than finished assessments. This is to ensure that the author of the assessments fully interacts with their own processes, and any assessment created is relevant to your specific setting.

These documents are a guide to support your own health and safety procedures and are not designed to be complete in any way.


Click to download: