Make some messy, mucky, marvelous spring break learning fun!

Lots of stay-home-from-school snow days this winter mean serious cabin fever in cold-weather places. While still early, as spring starts springing up most everywhere, or travel plans take your family there, consider letting kids get a little wild and grubby. Splashing in puddles creates much more than extra laundry!

In an article for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) by Meredith Burton titled, “Play in a Puddle on a Rainy Day,” she writes, “As long as it is warm enough, I regularly encourage my five-year-old to put on his raincoat and boots and run outside to jump in puddles while it is raining!” She points out that this simple activity helps to “develop the gross motor skills of jumping and stomping” and also helps kids experience the cause and effect properties of water.

Burton further elaborates that dropping different objects such as leaves, sticks, and rocks into puddles and observing their floating, sinking, and ripple-producing properties prompts valuable questions and observations.

She also suggests providing “buckets and scoops or spoons to use in puddle play.” Burton says her son enjoys making “puddle soup,” and notes that “As he stirs, scoops, measures and serves his [make-believe] soup, he also uses rich language to describe his process and to converse with friends, real and imaginary.”

Last year the Backwoods Mama blog posted some impressively good reasons to let kids get a little dirty from time to time, suggesting the benefits range from being more active to having healthier immune systems and healthier sensory systems too.

In their Let Your Kids Get Dirty! post they listed “15 Fun Activities” to help with that! Of course, once upon a time, these were things that happened on a pretty regular basis, but as we get more disconnected from the outdoors, they are not nearly so automatic. The list includes “splash in puddles,” “look for and touch bugs, frogs, and worms,” and “collect rocks, leaves, pine cones, shells and sticks.”

In the same vein, a Parenting article by Taylor Newman titled “Are Your Kids Getting Dirty Enough? (Serious Question!)” She asks a few awesome, not-so-rhetorical questions including “…did you know that children’s stress levels are significantly reduced within minutes of entering green spaces? Or that a friendly bacteria found in soil helps produce serotonin, that all-important happiness-promoting hormone?” She, too, touts the immune-boosting properties of a little romp in the dirt, and if parents aren’t quite yet sold, she pitches this: “Did you know that regular outdoor time will help your little rascal sleep more soundly at night?”

Unfortunately, not every day is great for outdoor play, but that doesn’t mean creativity and movement are out of the question. Active for Life, with tag line “raising physically literate kids,” and describing itself in part, as a “Canadian not-for-profit social initiative founded by B2ten,” last year posted, “20 Ways to Keep Kids Busy at Home During Spring Break.” One cool idea is to “Unleash your child’s inner diva with a raid of home closets and the dress-up box,” to stage a fashion show. Other fun ideas include rock-painting, a living room picnic, and freeze dance, where you put on some of the kids’ tunes, and “when the DJ (designated kid or parent) stops the music, players must freeze in their spot.” They also list the ever-popular classics of scavenger hunts and obstacles courses as other great options!

Once things have quieted down or siblings need some alone time, log on to the Anywhere Teacher subscription online learning destination, and get little ones sharpening basics with more than 2,000 activities. Multiple kids can be on different devices through a shared account. Or pack up the Little Scholar learning tablet and take it on the road—no Wi-Fi needed!

During spring break, if it’s possible, have kids grab a buddy and get a little muddy. If not, dig through closets, explore, and discover!