Activity time: 22 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Dirt (preferably not potting soil or sandy dirt)
- A few large pitchers
- A mixing bowl or tray, a small cup, and a popsicle stick, spoon, or other mud-stirrer for each participant
- Smocks (large, old T-shirts are a good substitute)
- Newspapers or drop cloths
- Paper towels and/or wet wipes
- Optional: Small basin(s) with soapy water for cleanup
- Optional: Paintbrushes for children who resist using their hands for this activity
- Wax crayons, pastel sticks, and/or color pencils to share
- Copies of Handout 2, I Am Loved, or blank paper for all participants, plus a few extra
Preparation for Activity
- Cover tables and floors with newspaper or drop cloths.
- Put dirt in bowls or trays and place around work table(s).
- Fill pitchers with water. You may prefer to wait and do this while children start drawing and writing on their handouts, to avoid mischief with water during earlier parts of the session.
- Put mud-stirrers, handouts, and crayons or color pencils on work tables.
- Print and cut out Leader Resource 4, All Are Loved Banner, and post where you plan to display the completed "Unconditional Love" mud art projects.
Description of Activity
Invite children to put on smocks and sit at a work table. Give each participant a copy of Handout 2, I Am Loved. Explain that they will draw themselves on the figure and fill in the blanks for the categories found at the bottom of the page. They can write, draw, or dictate their answers.
Give them a few minutes to do this while you distribute water to participants, pouring a small amount in their individual cups. Then, invite them to mix mud by adding water from their cup to their bowl of dirt. Avoid making the mud too watery.
Finally, direct participants to finger paint their self-portraits with the mud. They can choose how much mud to add to their pictures but should try not to cover the words and images on their paper. Avoid globs of mud that will simply harden and fall off. When everyone is done, leave the pictures to dry and then hang them up in an "Unconditional Love" gallery underneath the banner "All Are Loved."
Participants who finish quickly can be invited to play with their mud or to make mud paintings on blank paper until everyone is done.
Engage everyone in cleanup, using the paper towels, wet wipes, or wash basin.
Including All Participants
Whether or not the group includes children of color, it is very important to avoid suggesting links between muddy faces and darker skin colors. Avoid words like "dark," "brown" and "black," as you talk about the muddy images. Use language that describes muddiness, dirtiness, or messiness.
Children who have sensory stimulation challenges may be uncomfortable painting in mud with their fingers. Provide paintbrushes or other implements.