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Oooey Gooey Activities for International Mud Day

Muddy Activities for Preschool | Gryphon House

June 29th is International Mud Day! Children love playing in the mud and exploring the natural world around them, but for many children this messy activity is off limits. Sometimes the best fun is the messiest, and International Mud Day activities are a great way for children to create, explore, and learn through play all on their own terms which makes the mess worth it. 

30 Fun Ways to Learn with Clay and Squishy Stuff is a great parent and teacher resource full of children’s outdoor activities. Here are some oooey gooey activities you can try with your little learners at home or in the classroom today!


Glorious Mud!

Children love playing with mud and getting dirty, but for many of them it is forbidden territory. Provide this enjoyable experience in the security of the classroom.

What you need

  • Aprons, smocks, or old clothes
  • Small garden tools, such as shovels, trowels, rakes, and small buckets
  • Small patch of land that can be dug and played in; choose a shady spot or put up a gazebo over the area on sunny days
  • Warm day
  • Water source

Learning Objectives

Children will:

  • Be confident to try new activities, initiate ideas, and speak in a familiar group.
  • Select and use resources independently.
  • Observe, find out about, and identify features in the place they live and the natural world.
  • Find out about their environment, and talk about those features they like and dislike.
  • Respond in a variety of ways to what they see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.


  • Always check the area the children are going to use. Make sure there are no hazards, such as sharp stones or other debris. Barefoot experiences should always be carried out in new, sterilized soil bought from a garden center or other supplier; otherwise children should wear old shoes or boots.
  • This is a messy activity, so make sure the children are wearing old clothes or are well covered up.
  • In dry weather, you may need to soften the ground with water ahead of time.

What you do

  1. Put the tools and water containers in baskets near the muddy area, so the children can reach them easily.
  2. Encourage the children to explore the muddy area with their hands, and with their feet, too, if they’re not wearing boots.
  3. Make sure that children have easy and free access to the tools and containers so they can use them when they are ready.
  4. The children will need very little support and will soon be digging holes and channels, making mud pies and filling up buckets.
  5. Make sure the children receive positive messages from adults about this experience. It is very easy to convey by your expression, body language, or words that you disapprove of the activity or don’t like mess!
  6. Provide buckets or bowls of water, or access to a hose or the tap, for children to wash themselves and their tools in at the end of their play.

More Ideas

  • Tip a bucket of soil on a large sheet of plastic and examine it together. Encourage the children to look closely at the soil and feel it with their fingers. Look for tiny insects and other objects.
  • If you are fortunate enough to have a gentle slope in the outdoor area, make part of it into a mud slide. It will provide hours of amusement and children will be learning firsthand about friction and gravity. After a good rain, when the ground is soft, dig out any grass and smooth over the mud to get it ready for sliding!


Wet Clay Play

Adding water to clay quickly changes its consistency and feel. Very wet clay is both a sensory and creative activity. Encourage the children to explore what it can do as they investigate it.

What you need

  • Bag of clay
  • Large tray, a baby bath, or a water table
  • Newspaper or a supply of old towels
  • Small plastic pitchers, bottles, and hand sprayers
  • Smocks or other protective clothing for the children

Learning objectives

Children will:

  • Investigate objects and materials by using all of their senses as appropriate.
  • Find out about and identify some features of the things they observe.
  • Ask questions about why things happen and how things work.
  • Respond in a variety of ways to what they see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.



  • This activity is much better done outdoors! The children can really enjoy the experience without worry about mess and spills.
  • An outdoor source of water would also be welcome, because the children will never have enough!
  • Use a hose to clean up when the children have finished playing. They will be very eager to help.

What you do

  1. Put smocks on the children.
  2. Cover the floor if working indoors.
  3. Put the clay into the tray and add some water.
  4. As the children begin to play with the clay, talk about how it feels, looks, and slides.
  5. Encourage the children to use descriptive words, such as “slimy,” “sliding,” “shiny,” “slippery,” and “liquid,” and let them explore the clay, pummeling and poking it until it begins to dry.
  6. Pour some water onto the clay a little at a time and work into it. Move the clay around, squeezing, pressing, and twisting it.
  7. Some children may find it difficult at first to pour the water a little at a time, so give them a small amount and let them refill their pitcher frequently. Offer sprayers and other water containers, too.
  8. Talk about how the clay changes.
  9. Continue to add water until the clay is very soft and liquid.
  10. If the clay gets too runny, leave it for a while in a sunny place. Encourage the children to check in with it every hour or so to see what happens. 

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