Mari from Eden Play has shared her top Mud Kitchen tips, and why they are so beneficial for outdoor play and children’s development. Read on to find out…
“When I was at nursery school the concept of a mud kitchen had not yet been invented. But that didn’t stop us from creating all manner of pies and potions at any given opportunity! My personal favourite was a potion which I named “Sunshine Glow”:
- 2 cups – Rain water from the water butt
- ½ cup – Dandelion leaves (cut up)
- ½ cup – Dandelion flowers (petals all picked off individually)
- ½ cup – Buttercup and daisy centres (not the petals)
- 1 cup – Freshly mowed grass cuttings.
- Place all items into a jug and mix well. Then decant into an old shampoo bottle and try to persuade your Mum that it’s the ultimate in luxury hair treatments!
Nowadays, mud kitchens are a common sight in many nursery outdoor spaces, and they do provide fantastic opportunities for learning. The opportunities increase further if you consider just a simple few things which will ensure you really get the most from your mud kitchen.
Firstly consider this question….When is a mud kitchen not a mud kitchen? No, it’s not some awful Christmas cracker joke! It’s a real question. We may refer to them as mud kitchens, but let’s not pigeon hole it too much and stifle children’s imagination and creativity. Why can’t the mud kitchen be something else every single day of the week – or multiple things on a single day? Don’t always refer to it as the mud kitchen in your discussions with children…it may well be a mud kitchen on Mondays – but on Tuesdays why not a potions bench? On Wednesday afternoons why not a Five Star hotel kitchen for budding chefs…you get the idea. The children’s imaginations will make it whatever they want it to be of course, and that is what is most important.
Secondly – the more children that can be involved in your mud kitchen area at any one time, the greater the opportunity for them to learn and develop. You may be restricted by space, but try to make your mud kitchen as big as you possibly can. Maximise the work surface space, and ideally create a mud kitchen that can be accessed from both sides so that children can face each other as they work, rather than pushing it up against a wall and thus limiting the opportunity to maximise interaction between your children. If space permits, you should also have a table and chairs in the vicinity of your log kitchen. All Eden Play mud kitchens are now supplied with log benches and table as standard, as we’ve learnt that not only does it get even more children involved, but by giving them the opportunity to fetch and carry between stations, it helps to increase language development and co-operation skills.
Finally – ensure your mud kitchen is fully resourced. A nearby raised planter full of earth is a must. But equally important is the equipment the children can use – everything from your basic bowls and spoons, to jugs, turkey basters, whisks, jars, bottles, chopping boards and anything the children themselves find to use! Siting your mud kitchen on an area of wetpour or asphalt will ensure it is easier to clean the area when the children have finished playing. And most importantly of all….kit your children out in appropriate waterproof clothing (from Muddy Puddles of course!) and they’ll be happy to play out with the mud and potions all day long!”