Mud + Mess + Math = Educational Fun!
Young children seem naturally attracted to activities that end up messy. Sometimes, though, creating the messy fun with them can be educational, especially if you think of ways to control the mess. Select an outside area that can easily be hosed down, put on old clothes, and you are ready to create your own Messy Mud Pie Café!
- a large basin of water
- measuring tools: teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring cups, liquid measures, kitchen scale, bathroom scale
- old pie pans, muffin tins, or small flat containers
- rolling pin (optional)
- natural “decorations”, such as flowers or twigs (optional)
To create your mud pies, combine approximately 75% mud and 25% sand in a large container. Slowly add the water until it is moist and moldable. Use the rolling pin or just your hands to roll out the mud into pies. Form the “pies” in a muffin tin, old pie pans, or small flat containers. Decorate them with items from your backyard such as flowers, twigs, pine cones, or stones. Put them in the sun to “bake.”
Talk about the time it will take for the mud pie to “bake” (or dry out). (Parents, you might consider creating your own mud pie ahead time and letting it dry to show an example of a baked pie.) Record the guesses. Then check back in at regular intervals, such as 30 minutes, 1 hour, and half a day. Take a picture at different intervals to record how the mud pies are baking.
While the pies are “baking”, consider the following activities:
Use the remaining mud to explore different weights and measures. Have your child measure specific amounts of mud. For example, ask your child to measure 1/4 cup of mud and place it in a container. Help your child fully fill the measuring cup and level it to obtain the exact measurement. Then ask your child, “Can you measure ¾ cup of mud?” Place the two containers next to each other and compare the amounts of mud. Which container of mud is more? Which is less?
Next, try weighing some mud. First have your child estimate the weight of a particular amount of mud. Then use a scale to weigh the mud. Was your child correct? Next select two different amounts of mud and estimate their weight based on your first measurement; then find the actual weights. Was your estimate more or less than the actual amount?
Use the remaining water to find volume with different-sized containers. Pour the water into the containers and estimate which container holds more water. Next pour each container into the liquid measure. Was your estimate correct?