Mud Kitchen Plans

Styles Street Children’s Community Long Day Care Centre is designing and developing an Outdoor Kitchen in the back playground with the hope that we will be able to develop it into a Mud Kitchen.

What is a Mud Kitchen? 

If we were to put it simply, a mud kitchen could be seen as a combination of an outdoor kitchen and a dirt patch. It is where the joys of playing with kitchen equipment meet the joys of mixing, stirring and combining water and dirt together. But a mud kitchen is so much more than what it first appears. Children connect with the earth through play without hesitation. There are no questions of “will I get dirty?”, “will there be a stain on my clothes?”, or “will I get sick if I lick the dirt?”

Before a child learns to walk their initial encounters of the outdoor environment are usually on the ground. Rolling around on grass, sand, dirt, exploring textures with their hands, feet and mouths are a natural part of life.

A toddler makes meaning to the experience by starting to pick up and mix the natural items together. Picking up pebbles and putting them in a bucket, just to tip them out again. The repetition is fun and it appears that they could do the same experience over and over again. They are learning so much about exploring with these natural materials. When the pre-schooler picks up the mud and pebbles and puts them in a bowl and says “I am making dinner”, she is making sense of her world by copying the simple task of cooking, whilst exploring the textures, smells, and colours that the natural environment provides.

Making a mud pie, topping it off with some pink petals and sprinkling some sand on top, inspires creativity, imagination, and a whole lot of happiness when children are free to connect with all of the loose parts that nature provides.

Benefits of a Mud Kitchen 

Connecting to our physical world through touching the earth is probably one of the easiest and basic forms of connection. If we encourage this from a very young age then the benefits can be astounding.

When a child plays in a mud kitchen they explore their;

  • Imagination, inventiveness , creativity, exploration and artistic expression
  • Ability to problem solve – “will this amount of sand fit in this container”, “how can I make a thick soup”
  • The outdoors – getting your hands dirty with the texture of dirt through your fingers is proven to reduce stress.
  • Ability to play with other children, either side by side at first and then through cooperative play.
  • Connection with the earth and learning to love and care for the planet.

With guidance from educators facilitating the play, the possibilities are endless. Educators can set up provocations[1] to encourage a myriad of learning opportunities that include but not limited to extending, language and literacy skills, numeracy and mathematical concepts, friendships and cooperative play and creative expression.

What do we need from families?

Part of being an early childhood community is recognising that all voices are heard. We would like to introduce a mud kitchen but understand that this has to be an experience that all families are comfortable with. Whilst a mud kitchen is an invaluable and timeless play experience, we understand that there may be times when your child comes home with a little more dirt on their clothes.

We ask that families provide their thoughts on the mud kitchen and provide feedback when you can.
We will provide photos and documentation on the process of implementing the mud kitchen.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Tracey Sharp 

Vice President (and Early Childhood Educator)- Styles Street Committee of Management

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[1] Provocations: deliberate and thoughtful decisions made by the teacher to extend the ideas of the children. Teachers provide materials, media, and general direction as needed, but the children take the ideas where they want. This allows children to develop skills of creativity, inventiveness and flexibility in thinking, planning and reflecting. ( Journey onto Early Childhood)

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