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Glorious Mud: The Cheapest, Friendliest Art Material in the World

by Kiko Denzer
January/February 2011
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/glorious-mud-the-cheapest-friendliest-art-material-in-the-world/5019761/

Give children dirt and water, and they make mudpies. They know that the best art material is underfoot — easy, available, friendly — and dirt cheap! But don't stop at mud pies! Earth makes all manner of 'functional art,' from model villages (on the playground, or on a table top), to play sculptures, decorative murals, and low-relief sculpture to benches, birdhouses, and even labyrinths for quiet meditation. Schools with gardens are making wood-fired ovens for pizza, bread, and garden harvest parties. You can even make a full-size hut or house — or cover up ugly industrial walls with murals to make your school more welcoming.

Large-scale projects can involve and galvanize a whole community, and broad participation transforms teaching from a specialized classroom activity to an authentic community endeavor where children not only learn basic skills, but also absorb the essential experience of participating in a social and physical whole. If it "takes a village to raise a child," it takes children, parents, and elders — all living, working, and playing together — to make a village. However, since most of us live in cities built by licensed, bonded, insured professionals, we forget the power of our combined creativity. Mud revives ...

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