The Brain Boosting Benefits of Making Mudpies

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By Meghan Fitzgerald, Tinkergarten Founder and Chief Learning Officer March 16, 2017

My husband and I started Tinkergarten to help our three girls build a life of outdoor play like we enjoyed before iPads were invented. We wanted to raise our kids to be joyful mess makers, community members and problem solvers. Unable to find any programs like this, we rolled out Tinkergarten, outdoor play-based classes for kids!

30 minutes of screen time and 30 minutes of green time yield very different results. Most parents notice a difference in their children when they spend time in nature. We read more and more about how time in nature benefits kids. But, what is exciting is the growing awareness that nature is the ideal environment for early learning. Making mudpies is not only fun, but it is also a brain boosting, body building and habit forming way to help kids learn to be creative, persistent and collaborative learners for life. We see this every day in Tinkergarten classes across the country, and it’s thrilling.

The first eight years of a child’s life is a time of unparalleled development. Brain architecture is refined and strengthened. If we allow them to take risks, children develop their big and small muscles along with the confidence to test themselves and to know their own limits. Children are scientists who explore, experiment and make sense of their world, all without needing us to teach them how. Our job is, rather, to guide them, to give them access to the richest play environments and most supportive social communities possible.

How do you start to be a guide to your child’s learning?

Spend your free family time in support of free play in the ideal classroom—the great outdoors. Learn how playing with mud together supports kids at developing a wide range of skills. Convert an old bed sheet into a tool that lets you hunt the wind, and explore the forces of nature. Or, help your kids invent solutions to problems like, “We wanted to make paintings but forgot the paints. What should we do?” Even kids as young as 18 months can learn through these open-ended, engaging play activities. Visit to find these simple activities and a whole range of inspiring DIY ideas.

How do I do this with a supportive social community?

Once per week, families all over the country join together in local parks to share in Tinkergarten class. The class is structured to support children, ages 18 months to 8 years old and their accompanying adult. The curriculum is designed to offer the kind of play scenarios that invite kids to challenge themselves and to learn to play as part of a group. Tinkergarten is a social environment that is supportive of all kids.

We all know that it takes a village to raise kids. With the support of a talented and certified Tinkergarten Leader, parents and caregivers get the chance to learn. In class, Tinkergarten leaders model new ways to inspire play and share insights on how to support children at play.

How do I find Tinkergarten classes near me?

Visit sign up for a class in your neighborhood.

How do I learn more about leading Tinkergarten classes?

Leading Tinkergarten classes is a great opportunity for parents who want to pick up meaningful, extra work and give back to the community. It's flexible, and your children can come too! If you value play, learning and the outdoors, you can bring this exceptional experience to families in your community. Visit to learn more!