Creative and messy

two children making mud pies on a table structure built of outlast blocks and planks

Celebrating mud

Children seem to be magnetically drawn to water and dirt. From their perspective, the activities that result in the messiest clothes are the activities which are the most fun!

“It’s okay for children to get dirty,” writes Michelle Rupiper. “In fact, when you look at the benefits children gain from mud play, it’s not just okay, it’s important.” Science now shows that certain bacteria present in soil are very beneficial to children and can aid in mental health and the prevention of allergies. In addition, the open-ended, malleable properties of mud make it an excellent learning material – encouraging the development of both cognitive and social skills. Read more

personal signature

P.S. International Mud Day is 29 June!

two reception aged children experimenting with water flow on the outlast cascade

The outdoor waterplay system

There’s something about manipulating the movement of water that is irresistible. Which child hasn’t discovered the thrill of sticking their thumb under a tap to create a dramatic and drenching spray of water? It is an opportunity to explore, experiment, and observe – science at its best!

Community Playthings set out to discover how we could enable every setting to provide this type of play – even in urban locations with limited outdoor space. Here, finally, we can show you our new Outlast water play system – operated by a group of industrious little engineers completely absorbed in their play and exploration. Get ready for a waterfall! Watch now.

personal signature

Woodworking

Woodwork at St. Werburgh's Nursery School

Liz Jenkins, Head teacher of St. Werburgh's Park Nursery School in Bristol, believes in giving her children varied opportunities for creative self-expression and exploration. In this interview, she tells how woodworking sessions with artist and educator Pete Moorhouse have added "another element of richness" to the setting.

Watch the interview and see more pictures of the setting here.     

outdoor imagination

Giving imagination free rein outdoors

The outdoors has become fashionable, and that's great. But we need to be careful not to make our children's outdoor environments too prescriptive. Take the role play area, for example. I have seen mud kitchen kits for sale that provide new pots, pans and utensils. You can even purchase a mud kitchen cooker. Are we going to tell the children "Be careful of the new cooker" when the play gets messy? I hope no one tells them "No, that's the cooker over there" when they boil water on a tree stump instead.

The whole idea when equipping a mud kitchen should be to recycle old stuff that children can use for whatever they wish. I believe children's free imagination and the outdoors are closely related. Give them loose parts in the form of big blocks, crates, guttering and a leaky metal coffee pot. Then let them get on with it.

Painting outdoors

Letting your children paint outdoors

Try taking your children outdoors to paint and see what they come up with. Children who are out in the garden all day experience continuous change. Temperature and light fluctuate from hour to hour, scents and sounds vary from one season to the next and there is a progression of flowers and seeds, insects and birds over time. These nuances build children's subconscious knowledge and love of the world they live in, and inspire creativity.

So bring art, wet play and mealtimes into the garden whenever possible. You will find that children respond quite differently to these activities when they take place outdoors.

Search or browse our learning library

Filter by topic or type