At the end of school today, I took my fifth graders out to the playground for a few minutes of play. When done, we lined up to go inside as parents were congregating near the playground to pick up their children. A group of parents were hovering nearby and I looked down to see a preschool aged boy squatting down with both hands digging into a muddy puddle. He kept pulling out his hands to inspect the attatched mud before diving in for more. My fifth graders were trying to get him to high-five them, but he was too engrossed in his play. What I thought was cool was that the mom was not bothererd by his playing in the mud. It is good for a little kid to get his hands dirty and not be scolded to keep his hands clean.
How often in school do you get to play in the dirt? Here is an article about a fourth grade class that sifted through a box of dirt and found an eight inch long 11,500 year old piece of hair from a Mastadon. What a memorable experience for the children in that class. They were participating in something called The Mastadon Matrix Project. It costs only $10 to get involved and get your own box of dirt. I think I will apply and have my class do this next year. As Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus always says, "Take chances! Make Mistakes! Get Messy!"