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Mud mugs

Connect with the earth and get stuck into the mud as you make a fantastic face sculpture.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Old towels
  • Soil

Before you begin

  • Find a local area where there are trees or fallen logs to use as a base for the faces. If there isn’t one, you could use a clearing to make them on the floor, or you could even make them on wooden boards or plates.
  • Make sure you have permission to use the location and to dig a small hold to get mud. Make sure there’s some water for everyone to wash their hands.
  • Tell everyone to come in old clothes; they may want to bring an old T-shirt to cover their clothes.

Prepare the materials

  1. Everyone should travel safely to the creation location.
  2. Everyone should split into pairs, and find a surface to make their mud face on. More than one pair can use each tree or log if there’s enough space.
  3. The person leading the activity should explain where it’s OK to dig.
  4. Each pair should get a bowl and spoon, and dig up some soil.
  5. Each pair should mix some water into the soil, until they have mud they can mould into shapes. If it’s too runny, they should add some more soil and a handful of grass.

Start scultping

  1. It’s time to get stuck in! Everyone should use their hands to get some mud from their bowl, and start sculpting a face on their log. Start with a big dollop to be the face, and then work on building up the eyes, nose, and ears.
  2. Each pair should add anything else to finish off their face. For example, they could add stones for eyes, or leaves and sticks for hair.
  3. Once each pair has finished their face, they should rinse their hands with water and dry them on an old towel. The person leading the activity should remind everyone to wash their hands well with soap and warm water when they get home.
  4. Once everyone’s finished their faces, everyone should walk around and look at all of the sculptures. They’ll probably all be different, but most of them will blend in with the natural surroundings; some will even look like they’ve grown from the trees.
  1. Everyone should think about what would happen to their face over time if they left it there. They should return their sculpture back to the ground if they need to – the person leading the activity should know whether they can leave them on the trees.

Reflection

This activity was a chance for everyone to value the outdoors and connect with the natural world. Is everyone happy with the sculptures? Because they’re made out of natural materials they blend in with their surroundings, and they’ll also wash away with rain or crumble back to the earth. How did the mud feel? It may have been cool, sticky, squishy, or gritty. Sometimes it’s good to slow down and connect with the natural world.

This activity was also a chance to have fun! Did people enjoy playing in the mud? How did everyone feel when they touched the mud? Some people probably found it fun straight away, while others may have needed some encouragement to get stuck in. What sorts of words describe how people felt when they were playing with the mud? It may have made people feel relaxed, happy, or nervous. However everyone felt, it’s OK – it’s great if people challenged themselves to give it a go.

Safety

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.