Ella’s classroom is currently studying worms so I thought it would be fun to throw together a Clean Mud Worm Bin to send to school with her! This is an awesome sensory activity for kids if you’re stuck inside or trying to warm the kids up to actual mud.
I needed to create something that would work in a classroom setting – with lots of different immune issues, including allergies – and something that would engage lots of kids. I wanted something that would entice the kids who love getting dirty as much as the kids who would prefer to stay clean.
I also wanted something that smelled great but wouldn’t get snacked on – since that would just introduce germs into the sensory bin.
We’ve previously made a garden clean mud with coffee grinds but I wanted to try to achieve a consistent “muddy” look instead of the speckled white & brown mud we achieved last year – and my experimenting brought me to chocolate cookie crumbs! The cookie crumbs were allergy-friendly and smelled great, but thanks to the addition of soap in our clean mud, the kids were not tempted to eat it (and if they were, they were soon greeted by the bitter taste of soap).
I did a FB live to show how to make clean mud so I’m sharing it here now – it’s not as polished as my typical videos, but it will show you step by step how to create this awesome sensory play material for your kids!
How to Make Clean Mud
First, gather your materials:
- 1 bar Ivory soap
- 2 rolls toilet paper
- 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
- 6-10 cups of water
- Fishing tackle worms
- Giant bin
I made clean mud in a recent FB live video, if you’d like to see it in action.
Tear up the toilet paper into approximately one-inch squares – a great job to give to a little person who likes to shred things! This mud bin took two rolls so if you want less mud, you can get away with ripping less.
You can either explode your soap in the microwave by heating it for about a minute, or grate it with a cheese grater (a good Montessori practical life activity).
Mix the soap with the toilet paper and add as much water as you need to get a consistency you like, kneading and mixing the mud with your hands to help break down the toilet paper and mix in the soap.
Once you have your desired consistency, add the chocolate cookie crumbs to get a great “mud colour” with a delicious smell. (None of my kids have tried tasting this, and if they did the bitterness of the soap would turn them off immediately.)
Sprinkle in your fishing tackle (fake) worms, or use the bendy parts of pink straws if you don’t want to buy the worms for this activity. (Though you could use them for several other things after you’re done with the mud – painting, counting, fishing pretend play, etc.)
At first, the kids were totally grossed out by the muddy worm bin – one even ran away!
They started off exclusively using the tongs and refused to touch the clean mud with their bare hands… but once I dug my hands in and showed them how fun and squishy the clean mud was (and how easily it wiped off my hands) they dove right in, too!
Providing the tongs helps children practice hand-eye coordination, strengthen their hands, and adds a new dimension to their play.
Developing hand strength is important in young children as it helps them have the capacity to hold a pencil and move that pencil in a controlled manner – not to mention practical life skills, like being able to use scissors, or open a container.
But, of course just trying to grab those slippery worms with their bare hands is a great fine motor activity on it’s own – check out how it naturally encourages the pincer grip needed for writing (and is the same size and shape as a pencil).
Miss V is obsessed with counting objects at the moment, so she naturally gathered as many worms in her hands as she could so she count higher and higher.
And as you can see from the close up of her hand, the clean mud has this great, foamy texture and was really easy for the kids to wipe off of their hands.
You could put your clean mud worm bin in a water and sand table, or in a large bin with a lid like I did. Just keep in mind that if the clean mud is exposed to air overnight, some of the mixture will harden – not completely, but if you want to maintain a smooth and consistent texture, best to keep it covered when not in use.
This clean mud bin could last for weeks – especially if you have kids clean their hands before playing. Since I run a daycare, I throw out our play dough and sensory materials like this after a week or two, so if you try it and keep it around for longer – let me know how long it lasted!
Would your kids enjoy this clean mud worm bin?