Dirt Cheap Fun That Keeps Your Kids Healthy

Photo (cc) by plasticrevolver

My great-nephews are the luckiest kids in the world. Their mom lets them play in the dirt. She doesn’t get all bent out of shape about a little grime, figuring that this is why God invented soap and water.

She once showed me photos of her older boy after a trip to a muddy inlet. He was so coated in muck that he looked like a clay figurine. She’d anticipated that and brought along dry clothes so he wouldn’t wreck the inside of the family car.

“I did have to hose off his hair at the house, before his shower,” she said.

Playing in the dirt is truly frugal fun. Give a kid a spoon and some old plastic containers and watch him go to town.

What’s more, science seems to indicate dirt is literally good for our kids. Research published in the journal Neuroscience indicates that exposure to soil improves a person’s immune system and increases the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin. No wonder gardeners and children are always happy.

Down and dirty

My siblings and I played outdoors all year long. Spring and summer meant dirt, dirt, dirt. We made mud pies, dug holes, and splashed in the puddles that formed in the sand alongside the road. Worms were like pets. Sometimes I’d pull up a weed and observe its intricate, soil-caked root system. I liked the way the dirt smelled.

I remember lying on the ground to watch insects trundling bits of sand to build mounds or dragging food back to their homes. Sometimes I’d see a bunch of tiny ants moving a much larger dead insect and marvel at their strength.

Such things can now be glimpsed on the Discovery Channel, complete with binomial nomenclature. But they’re so much better experienced up-close and personal. Besides, with TV you don’t get to drop a cracker crumb and watch the ants scurry to “harvest” it.

Dirt isn’t always benign, of course. Tetanus spores are found in soil. So are pinworms and the potentially lethal raccoon roundworm, a parasite found in the animal’s feces that can cause serious injury or death if accidentally ingested.

There are no absolute guarantees that a raccoon has never pooped in your yard. But there’s a whole lot of things we can’t guarantee. Life is full of uncertainties. It’s also too short to spend as a germophobe.

Marginalizing Mother Nature

I feel sorry for kids whose main experience with the natural world is a manicured soccer field. We marginalize “nature” as something to be enjoyed in short doses from a well-maintained path that’s not too far from a parking lot. Because nature is, well, dirty. As in, full of dirt.

But kids love dirt. They love digging in it, sculpting with it, pouring water onto it. Dirty hands, dirty faces, dirty clothes – and happy children.

All it will cost you is a little extra soap, and some patience. But let them be kids.

And why not try it yourself? Dig a few holes. Lie down and make mud angels. Your children will never forget the day you slopped around in the dirt with them. They’ll also enjoy hosing off your head.

More stories on DonnaFreedman.com:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use
14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use

Save your money. These items seem alluring, but they often end up as coat racks and dust magnets.

The 5 Worst Home Upgrades for the Money
The 5 Worst Home Upgrades for the Money

These home improvement projects basically never pay off.

15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5
15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5

These products offer big value at a small price.

5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts
5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts

These discounts may save you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year.

Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon
Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021
7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021

These projects will take a bigger bite out of your budget than in the recent past.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.