Getting messy with it: mud, mud, glorious mud!



We are a couple of months into fortnightly Toucan boxes now and they are very popular in our house.  We have made some COOL things. A Masai bowl (with papier mache and a balloon), a dream catcher, tie dye butterflies (with filter paper and clothes pegs) and we are gearing up to make home-made ice cream with a very accessible recipe.  Both kids (particularly 3 year old Sam) have been really inspired and look forward to them arriving. Even the weeks where I have not been that impressed (we made some floppy flowers out of felt that the cat ate and some dinosaur tails that fell apart straight away and the cat ate) they still really enjoyed. The concept of the box clonking through the door, personalised to them, plus the different themes, the booklet with puzzles and colouring and the sticker chart for completing each one really appeal. I would recommend them to families that enjoy a craft and a quiet(ish) cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.

I think anyone that knows me will know that I love a bit of mud.  Everyone has their childhood sights that make them happy. Little tiny bottoms in swimsuits (or not in swimsuits, equally), post-bath sleeping faces, siblings hugging (or just playing together without beating each other to kingdom come), etc.  On my list is small children having fun in mud. I don’t know why. There are ways I could explain it officially, like being free to explore the different elements and textures of mother nature, feeling free and unencumbered by society just to get properly mucky, building up immunity to every day germs etc etc but really I just love muddy kids.   To be honest, as the owner of a dog and three kids even I get quite fed up with literally everything in my whole life (shoes, coats, all clothes, car, sofas, carpets etc) being coated in proper, sticky, black mud in the middle of winter. So Spring and early Summer are peak times for me (not a coincidence that one of my favourite authors of all time Margaret Atwood believes, "In Spring, at the end of the day you should smell like dirt").  The allotment has provided a perfect little outlet as the kids have got a small, contained space for all-encompassing muddy play for hours on end and it has been very satisfying (although it's not led to us being Chelsea Flower Show ready, if I am completely honest).

For anyone without an area they are prepared to give over to hard-core mud, Wakehurst mud kitchen is just totally lovely and brilliant.  Set in beautiful walled garden, it's an actual kitchen set up (no cooker, don’t panic) with running water and lots of implements, so kids can just get stuck in and muddy up to their hearts content.  There is another brilliant one at Wilderness Woods in Hadlow Down. Any other recommendations greatly appreciated! But you don’t have to pay a penny (or be a member of the National Trust) to create a bucket-load of washing for yourself. A few weeks ago I took the kids (plus one) down to a stream in the woods for a picnic tea.  They paddled and got covered, quite literally head-to-toe, in mud, they ran, they climbed, they ate a lot of French bread, and it was one of the easiest and most enjoyable tea times we have had. Free, and fun, and easy (although a full wash of everything involved needed immediately afterwards).

None of our library books have been memorable classics this month, so I thought I would recommend two poetry books that Nancy and Sam LOVE.  I am a total loser-bookworm, but have never really "got" poetry; I do, however, remember almost by heart seven or eight silly poems from a book that I loved as a child (one in particular about a boy that ate so much cake he literally blew up, crops up in my mind almost daily).  And I hope that some classics (such as 'Daddy fell in to the Pond', 'Eletelephone' and 'The Dinosaurs Dinner') from The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems edited by June Crebbin will be the same for my kids - they should do as we have read them endlessly. Another book, that seems to me to be the most random collection of words possible, but my kids adore and find completely hilarious, is A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen (as reviewed by The Book Activist in a previous blog post).  It's difficult to summarise this book for you, so I will type out one of Sam's absolute favourites from it. If you think your child would love poetry, then try this book (FYI: it happens to be a pretty accurate description of life as the mother of three kids):

"Once upon a plom

There lived a poor little mom

Along with her children three.

There was a great big Gom

A Flom and a Chom

Who all sang "Me, me, me".

Then the Flom said, "Ping!"

And the Chom said, "Ting!"

And the Gom said, "Ping Pong Pee."

And the poor little mom

Said to the Gom,

"What about me, me, me?"