What child doesn’t love to get out in the garden and cook up a few mud pies? Now the weather is finally warming up, it’s the perfect time to set up a mud kitchen outdoors, where your little one can enjoy plenty of wonderful muddy messy play.
What is a mud kitchen?
Playing with dirt and water never goes out of style. Children over generations have been getting down and dirty with pots and pans, spoons, sticks, whatever they could get their hands on, to create a range of sumptuous mud dishes. So why not create a fun exciting space for them to do it?
A mud kitchen is an outdoor area, custom-made for such play, where kids can spend time concocting, mixing, playing to their heart’s content. While there are a range of mud kitchens on the market you can buy, complete with hardwood timber benches, oven and sink area, you can easily create your own with any old furniture pieces available. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just as long as your little one can happily play and keep the dirt in the garden where it belongs.
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Why mud kitchens are so great for kids
While your child will love getting his hands dirty, playing with mud actually encourages a great deal of learning and development. It allows children to express their creativity and develop fine motor skills. and also encourages imaginary play, role playing, collaboration and communication skills.
Not only that, mud is a wonderfully effective and versatile sensory material for kids to use and feels great, squelching between fingers. It can be mixed up to have a thick or thin consistency and can be shaped, sculpted or simply slopped around. Whether its creating a restaurant, a pie shop or just enjoying the sensation of mud between the toes, there’s something for every child to enjoy, whatever their stage of development.
And you’re not only giving kids the freedom to explore and get dirty in their very own special space, but also the chance to get close to Mother Nature and learn, hands on, about their natural environment, with all its plants, flowers and bugs.
Spring has sprung, so it’s time to get out of the house, away from tech, and enjoy the warmth and adventure of the great outdoors!
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How to set up a mud kitchen
Choose a space that works for you and one where your child feels comfortable. It might be a cosy, out-of-the-way nook in your garden, or an outdoor deck or terrace. Setting up against wall or fence is a good idea to help to create a more kitchen-like feel. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make an exciting and creative space.
Check out secondhand or charity stores for old bits and pieces of furniture or see what you have around the home or garden that might work. Some sort of bench is useful, which could be as simple as an old craft table, or a piece of wood on milk crates.
Some sort of storage is good too, for keeping pots, pans and utensils – perhaps an old cupboard, a designated space under the bench or collection of brightly coloured plastic buckets. You also may want to set the kitchen up near a supply of dirt and perhaps a tap. However children, are usually happy to fetch and carry piles of mud or buckets of water. You just might end up with more mess with this arrangement!
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What does a mud kitchen need?
Your mud kitchen can include a collection of bowls, containers, cooking pots, anything in which your child can mix a mud pie. Kids don’t really mind what these are, they could be sand buckets, ice cream containers or an old tea set. Source a range of old cooking pans, cupcake trays, plastic cups, plates, cutlery, wooden spoons and kitchen utensils. Anything that will help with mixing, serving and inspiring your little one’s imagination. And finally, add collections of natural materials such as leaves, sticks, pines cones or pebbles that can be used to enhance muddy creations.
Once you’ve set up your kitchen area, all you need is a bit of dirt, a bit of water and your child, dressed in washable clothes, an art smock or raincoat. After that, anything can happen …
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