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I had the great pleasure of going into the forest with a group of children last week. The educator led us all to a spot with dirt hills, big, dusty steep hills. The children whooped up and down as the dirt billowed around them. The climbed hand over hand on the steep parts, and the slid down on their bottoms.

Then she led us to a spot with a giant rope swing and more dirt hills with stumps and logs. Kids balanced on the tops of stumps, walked across the logs and poked sticks into all of them. They experimented with the rope swing, some highly skilled at standing on the knot at the bottom, others happy to hold it and walk in a circle.

We came back to the centre dirty, sweaty and with a few blackberry thorn scratches. It was marvellous.

All this leads me to think of a statistic I recently came across: outdoor play structures, you know the kind with bars and railings and a slide, are vacant 87% of the time when children play.  Of the 13% of the time children played there they:

•used loose parts together with the structure 5% of the time

•played underneath it 4% of the time

•used it as intended 3% of the time

•used it for prospect 1% of the time

And here’s another finding: aggression between children increases when no manipulable material was provided in their outdoor play space.

I am not surprised by these findings, are you? I think hearing the stats just confirms what we already knew. Kids want to mess around with the stuff on the ground. They want to dig, sift, sort, mix, move, pat, splat and plop.

Not all of us have access to a forest, but we can all get dirt!  Dusty, messy, malleable, ever-changing dirt.  And it’s dirt cheap. Where I live a cubic yard of dirt costs about $28……a bargain. What else could you buy for $28 that would  deliver that much play value? If it’s delivered by a dump truck, even better.

A yard of dirt in a corner of your yard….what do you think?


Lots of great big dirty blog inspiration is out there…..

Mud Play at Let the Children Play

Evidence that mud is good for you!

Stomping in the Mud

And the Grand Finale…..


About Kim

Kim is an admitted ECE geek. She and Danielle have bonded over their shared geekdom and have come to terms with it. She is a pedagogical facilitator working with educators in a number of early learning settings supporting and extending new thinking and practice. She loves reading, writing, talking and sharing ideas about the potentials of teaching and learning with ece's and young children. ECE geeks unite!

2 thoughts on “Dirt

  1. Thanks Kim for including Stomping in the Mud Play Group in your mentions of ‘glorious mud’.
    Stomping in the Mud has had a great 1st year. There were lots of days during the year that mud was everywhere, thanks to all the rain we have had this year.
    We will close for the summer months at the end of June and be back at playing outside in September.

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