Hello, Earth!

Wellness starts when we feel grounded and "in our bodies." A wonderful way to do that is to activate our senses. In the first lesson of our fall Tinkergarten Anywhere Wellness series, we offer four ways to play that help kids feel grounded in their bodies and connected to the earth beneath their feet.

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The Guide

Step 1: Watch the Tinkergarten Anywhere "Hello, Earth" video lesson.

Hop into your Tinkergarten dashboard to watch the "Hello, Earth" video lesson. Kids can watch how Meghan and other explorers play with stones, water and soil, then get inspired to explore the earth beneath their feet!
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Step 2: Gather a few materials:

  • Water
  • Dirt
  • A mixing bowl (or just a spot to mix water and soil on the ground)
  • A stick or spoon for stirring
  • Stones

Step 3: Invite play.

Head outside and look at the materials you’ve gathered together. Notice that all of these materials come from the earth! Wonder how you might play with these materials. Need ideas? Here are four of our favorite ways to play with stones, water and soil:

Mud play:
Grab a handful of dirt and talk about how the soil in your biome feels and smells. Trickle a small amount of water on the ground, and discover together what happens to the dirt. You can take a stick and even do a little mixing. Then hand kids a container of water and invite them to see what happens when they add it to dirt. Stand back, and watch them get to work. 
To extend play, welcome kids to explore how different amounts of dirt and water create different types of mud. Scoop up some mud and use your hands to form a ball. Then, model sticking a nature treasure (e.g. stick, stone, leaf) or two into this nice, firm mud. Or, use mud and sticks to build a structure!

Stone Washing:  Dab some water on a stone and notice which changes you notice (e.g. vibrancy of colors, change in temperature, texture). Pretend stones or sticks are earthworms and help them tunnel into the soil. Wash them off in water. Repeat!

Shapes from Stones: Slowly start to form a shape on the ground with stones. Once kids are interested and your shape is taking form, hand them a stone to add and enjoy making the rest of the shape and other shapes together. It can also help to first lay down a piece of string or use sidewalk chalk to form the outline of a shape. Or, just draw a line in the dirt or sand with a stick or your finger. Circles or ovals are the easiest shapes for kids to make, but we also love to introduce kids to spirals, a shape that fascinates and reminds us of the cycles and rhythms of the natural world.

Barefoot earth walk: Make a batch of mud right on the ground or mix dirt and water together in a large bin. Then, invite kids to take off socks and shoes and explore the mud with their feet! How does the mud feel on their bare feet? What sounds can they make when they step and stomp in mud?

Want more ideas like this? Try some of these DIY activities to help kids activate their senses and explore the earth:

Why is this activity great for kids?

Interacting with soil, stones and earth activates multiple senses, tuning in our brains and helping us feel focused and grounded. Holding and beholding stones can make us feel calm, and dirt can even help us develop our immune systems! When kids transform the shape, texture, or nature of materials (in this case, turning dirt and water into mud), they also engage in a universal behavior pattern called the transforming schema, which supports brain development.

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