By Anna Randell

Friends Amelia Reid, left, and Matilda Lehman made mud pies together in the mud pit at the Festival of Mud in Adelaide. Photo: James Elsby

Friends Amelia Reid, left, and Matilda Lehman made mud pies together in the mud pit at the Festival of Mud in Adelaide. Photo: James Elsby

IT’S the perfect chance to get filthy – with permission.

The Festival of Mud in Adelaide allows kids and their parents to get muddy all in the name of good health.

Big turnout

In its first year last year, 4,000 people turned up. This year the organisers, Nature Play SA and the city of Unley, had to turn people away after more than 4,000 people signed up.

“I’ve never been this dirty before,” says Ella Magarey, five, who was covered in mud from head to toe.

“I thought the mud arena was the best part,” says Evie, who’s eight. “It was epic. I would definitely recommend it to other kids.”

Tom, who’s nine, says the day was “awesome”.

“I really loved the mud pit and also making the tepee,” he says. “I think everyone should go next year.”

Five things to do with mud

1. Make pies from dirt, water, flowers, grass, stones, bark and your own secret ingredients.

2. Create a face on a tree and use natural things for its eyes, nose and mouth.

3. Paint a masterpiece on paper, the ground or on a tree.

4. Build a village or kingdom for tiny people.

5. Take your shoes off and squelch along a muddy path as if you were walking along a beach.

Good for parents, too

There was lots of information for parents and teachers to use nature play at home and school.

One mum, Rachel Drummond, says she always played in mud when she was a girl.

“It’s good to be able to let kids take risks and play without worrying so much about safety and cleanliness,” she says.

“We get so caught up in our busy lives and I think many parents just can’t be bothered. Let’s face it, it’s easier not to [let kids get dirty].”

Kids need dirt

SA’s chief executive, Sarah Sutter, says people are starting to realise playing outside and getting dirty is important for kids.
“When kids play in mud they’re being active, which can help prevent obesity, [and] they’re using their imagination and creativity, problem solving and gross and fine motor skills,” she says.

She says more than one in four Australian children are overweight, and one in seven has a mental health problem, such as stress or anxiety.

“Children are less active than ever before and we’re seeing an increase in myopia [short-sightedness] in children, not because they are looking at screens too much, but because they aren’t getting enough sunlight,” she says.

Source: Nature Play SA

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