Did you know that dirt is one of the most delightful play items for children? However, in our phobia-ridden world of hand sanitizers and triple chlorine washed greens in plastic bags, we've set ourselves on our way to the great microbial cleansing, stripping our immune systems of beneficial microorganisms and taking the delight of free play without fear of getting dirty away from our children.
If you can entertain the thought of letting your child play in the dirt, mud, puddles, here is the scoop: all of that stuff washes away from hair, clothes, skin, and toenails, and a few stains is a small price to pay for the benefits of free creative play and strengthened immune systems. Provide the child with small shovels, cups, spoons. Objects in nature like sticks, shells, bark work well also.
Scoop away earth and add water to the mix to create moats, mini ponds, winding rivers. Have the child watch how the water interacts with his/her creations. Does the water remain stationary? Does it absorb? Ask your child: What is dirt? (A: dirt is a mixture of all kinds of things: broken rocks and stones, minerals, organic matter such as broken down bits of plants. ).
Here is a great article by Dan De Lion of Return to Nature about potential repercussions behind our drive for sterility http://returntonature.us/reculturing-our-worldview/