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Down and Dirty

By Jane Whitmore - | May 18, 2021

Did you know that a little dirt is good for kids? Who would have thought!

Reading an article from ISU Extension the author writes about dirt and water creating mud – which provides limitless opportunities for children to play and learn.

The author, Cindy Thompson (but not our Cindy at West Elementary) says, “Mud is squishy, slimy, sloppy and wonderful! The joy children experience playing in mud is second only to the many benefits associated with mud play.”

She points out that mud is full of germs, then counters by saying that not all germs are bad.

“Many germs actually boost immune systems,” she says, then adds: “Exposure to germs found in outdoor elements like grass and mud help build a stronger immune system, especially in young children. Friendly bacteria in the body can also get a boost from mud play.”

There are benefits beyond that: “Children learn through their senses: touching, smelling, seeing, listening and, yes, even tasting. The texture and squishiness of mud is completely different than sand or play dough, and mud makes a very unique sound. The way wet mud feels between toes is much different than how mud feels drying on the back of a hand.”

Mud also fosters creativity and she suggests creating a spot for “mud kitchen” that might include measuring cups and cookie cutters. Her rules include not throwing mud and remember to dress for the mess.

The picture that comes immediately into my head is one of my young son. He was wearing child’s hard hat and pair goggles, splashing through a mud puddle. The only clean spot on the child were around his eyes when the goggles came off and a band around his forehead when the hard hat came off. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of that event.

There’s no doubt about it, I was one of those fastidious kids who just didn’t like to get dirty. Actually, I’m a hand washer – which serves me well during the pandemic and beyond.

I especially have a dislike of getting anything under my fingernails. This applies to lots of things, especially cooking when it calls for mixing something with your hands.

It also applies to gardening. Here’s what I do: wear gloves – or – here’s a little tip if you want to “feel the soil”: scrape your fingernails across a bar of soap. This fills the void and when you finish digging in the dirt, wash your hands. The soap comes out and leaves your nails mostly clean. It really works!

“Dirty Jobs” with Mike Rowe is coming back to the Discovery channel. He lands himself in some of the dirtiest places imaginable. But he also makes a point – it takes that special someone to get down and dirty to provide the services that we don’t want to (or can’t) do ourselves.

Let’s get out there and discover our own dirty job and maybe even share the experience.