Celebrating International Mud Day – and a hippo who eats mud cakes in gumboots
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Celebrating International Mud Day – and a hippo who eats mud cakes in gumboots

by Freya Lucas

June 29, 2020

Created in 2009 by the World Forum Foundation, International Mud Day aims to connect children around the globe through the earth, by playing in the mud. 


Mud Day involves children and early childhood professionals from all over the world celebrating nature, the outdoors, and mess by getting really muddy. While mud is the star of the mud day show, celebrating International Mud Day isn’t all about jumping in puddles and getting deliciously muddy. 


Early Childhood Teacher and Journalist Melina Byrne explained that Mud Day can also be a vehicle to support children to learn and discover more about literacy, publishing, creativity and fun. 


Enter the Mud-Caked Hippo, a fictional creation by author Hazel Edwards. This hippo is the female cousin of the hippo who first captured the attention of young Australians in Hazel’s famous picture book ‘There’s A Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake.’ 


‘The Mud-Caked Hippo’ is an unpublished manuscript. It is about a hippo who likes mud cakes, wearing gumboots and helping to build houses made from mud bricks. As the story is as yet unpublished, the illustrations live only in the minds of its lucky readers. To celebrate International Mud Day, Melina and her fellow educators decided to bring the story to life. 


“We offered the children lots of inspiration and resources for this project – from a soft toy hippo (who is hopefully easy to wash!) to pencils for drawing the hippo, or clay to make a hippo,” Melina explained. 


Once the toy hippo had played in the mud, and the children had the opportunity to put forward their illustrations and ideas, they were very keen to engage in some mud play themselves – perfect planning by the educator team in the lead up to International Mud Day, celebrated on 29 June 2020.


When asked about plans for the day, Melina said “we plan to put on our gumboots and Muddlarks waterproof clothing and play with mud until the children have no more spare clothes left!” 


This project, Melina said, could not have come together without the help of Amy Rake, a children’s services librarian from the Central Northern Regional Library in NSW. She captivated the children’s interest as she read ‘The Mud-Caked Hippo’ on the library’s YouTube channel, as part of Hazel Edwards Week, and provided inspiration for the project. 


For more ideas about how to celebrate International Mud Day in your service, please see here. 

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