Mud Kitchen Ideas
The mother of all kids activities is a mud kitchen.
It’s a prepare once (make or buy it once) & let’em go. It offers hours of independent, focused play & it is an easy way to combine learning, play and imagination.
Here are some easy ideas to get your own mud kitchen started.
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Mud kitchen in a Day
Can’t wait to build a mud kitchen?
It doesn’t have to take a long time to make. In fact, a great way to try out is to recycle an old bench or table, a bowl & some cups and as long as you have a dirt (or sand) source and some water you’re good to go. You can re-purpose an old muffin tin for the mud muffins, a pie tin for mud pie or a casserole dish for a mud trifle.
Did you know there is a free kindle book titled Mud Kitchen in a Day? I wrote this paragraph to talk about how we got started with our own mud kitchen (setting up a simple one to try for the day to see how we like it) not knowing there is a (free) book with the same name.
Temporary Mud Kitchen & Mud-less Mixtures.
We tested out the mud kitchen idea using my temporary mud kitchen set up. We set up a mud kitchen in a day using our outdoor patio table & chairs (just as fun to get messy NOT as fun to clean up).
A mud-less alternative is to make mixtures or “potions” as my son likes to call them on a bench or your existing picnic table or patio table & chairs. I take kitchen scraps (or pull weeds & herbs from the yard) & let him have at it with a plastic knife (supervised, of course. Before we transitioned to the plastic cutlery he practiced with toy knives & slice-able toy fruit). I reserve vegetable scraps, fragrant herbs, cinnamon sticks & reinforced a broken plastic bowl with duct tape, that we still use.
Initially this idea was to practice learning how to cut with a plastic knife. I wanted this to be outside because, let’s face it preschoolers are MESSY! It was a great alternative to mud & he got to practice cutting skills.
How to Make a Mud Kitchen
Money is not required if you can round up items to be recycled (up-cycled or can get your hands on reclaimed wood) into a mud kitchen. Things like pallets, old decking, fencing, fell trees, bricks, and old bench or table, etc. can become the base and using old dishes or going to a thrift or dollar store to finalize those finishing touches.
He and daddy took on the project & scoured Pinterest for mud kitchen ideas. They found hundreds of ideas but it all boiled down to a few important (for us) criteria:
- use of recycled or up-cycled materials (we used reclaimed wood)
- ample work space
- easy to clean (this was mommy’s criteria)
Mud Kitchen Accessories
We opted for no built in sink & to just use a bowl for mixing (just like we do in our real kitchen) so we can re-purpose our table later (if he ever outgrows it) into a outdoor workbench.
Spoonula Set – I am not a huge fan of silicone but our wooden utensils got moldy and gross in a few months so I now recommend the silicone (or plastic) set.
Stainless Steel Bowl Set – our plastic bowl broke in less than 2 weeks and I duct taped it to reinforce it. I plan on replacing it with this stainless set.
Tongs Set – We use the tongs to pick up “stuff” and put it in our mixture. It’s really great fine motor work and they are fun for kids to use. I prefer the silicone tips again for practicality, it won’t scratch anyone or anything.
I am all for simplicity especially in terms of accessories. We re-purposed a lot of dishes but I had to replace some of the wooden spoons (absorbed too much moisture and just got too yucky). So I bought a silicone spoonula, not my favorite material but it served this purpose better.
We already had a bowl and several sand toy buckets that are great for transporting mud & water. I think the most “fun” of the mud kitchen for my son is the “work” getting the mud & water from point A to point B & making his mixtures.
Mud Kitchen Books
Mud Kitchen In a Day – FREE on KINDLE!!! (Who doesn’t love a free book?!?!?) This is a great book to help you get started with your own mud kitchen & getting kids playing more outdoors and IT’s FREE!
The backyard play Revolution – A must read for parents that teaches you how to have unstructured, child-led playtime, outdoors. Not sure if you’d like to purchase it? Read his free book, above (on kindle through amazon).
Balanced & Barefoot-This is a MUST read for parents, caregivers, daycare and preschool staff. It’s focus is on how the act of playing outside (as the name suggests- barefoot) helps kids’ development on all levels, physical, emotional & mental.
I love the quote by Dr. Klein in the foreword “… Being outdoors allows children to learn about themselves, gain confidence and flexibility, learn to problem solve, and get along with others. These are all traits they need for healthy development. I recommend this book for every parent looking to raise an independent, resilient, caring and confident child.”
Last Child in the Woods, Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. This book offers examples and ideas on how to get out in nature & let kids just play. It explores the importance of limiting screen time / video games and getting kids to play outside to combat the skyrocketing obesity and ADD rates in children.
A Little Bit of Dirt – 55 Science & art activities to reconnect children with nature. As the title suggests this is a great resource for science & art based kids activities.
What Can You do with a Mud Pie? – a super cute rhyming read aloud that is a compliment to outdoor messy play.
Whether you buy one or make your own mud kitchen the beauty of having your own is a go-to activity that will last your child for years.