Has your nursery got a mud kitchen?
We look at the benefits of children playing with a mud kitchen and advice on how to make one.
Children are continuously using their imagination and bringing you a cup of tea or a plate of cake, this of course may just be a pile of leaves or a scoop of sand. This is great to observe in the early years as it shows how children are using their creativity and imagination skills.
So how can children imagination skills be extended? Mud kitchens are a great source to aid children’s all round development whether this is their language development or using their problem solving skills to develop new ideas and concepts. Mud kitchens are something different to a pile of soil, the actual kitchen provides children with an area for them to extend their role play skills.
Children as young as two will thoroughly enjoy playing with the mud kitchen, pretending to make some kind of food. Mud kitchens are great for all year round play and are great as a core element of continuous provision outside. It doesn’t matter how grubby a mud kitchen gets the muddier the better. Responding to children’s curiosities is an excellent way to help children explore the natural world around them.
Playing with a mud kitchen
Children engage in a variety of actions such as filling, pouring, mixing, stirring, emptying, moulding, whisking etc. All of these actions help develop children’s gross motor skills. There are many endless opportunities and the range of activities is vast when playing with a mud kitchen. Children enjoy filling their pots and pans with mud from an area of the garden, they will also add any other objects they find and give it a good stir or two. Older children will create mental transformations and pots of mud, sand and leaves will become potions, different flavours, perfumes and many other concoctions.
When playing with the mud kitchen or filling the pots and pans up with mud this is an ideal opportunity to join in conversations, share ideas and discuss what to do next. It provides the opportunity for children to negotiate and play a role whilst learning interesting vocabulary and expressions
To read more about children making mud cakes click here
How can adults support children’s play?
Adults play a huge role in supporting children’s play, they need to act a as facialitor. Good quality support consists of observing children during play, noting down what is actually happening including any language spoken. Adults should respond accordingly, being careful not to quickly intervene in children’s play and find the best ways to help extend children’s play. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and observe rather than intervening as you may get more worthy information by standing back out of the way.
Helpful tips to help create a mud kitchen
As many nurseries are now introducing mud kitchens, let’s take a look at how these can be created and introduced into the continuous provision.
- Include the children in the design process, let them make the decisions.
- Look at many different mud kitchen pictures and pull together some of the ideas; the main purpose of a mud kitchen is to provide children with ample work surface, a place to mix the concoctions and an area where children can interpret as a cooker.
- You can quite easily make a mud kitchen on a budget, it should be unique and children will enjoy a kitchen that has been made according to their specifications
- Ask parents for their help, this with help them understand the benefits of playing with mud kitchens
- Don’t be afraid to ask for donated items from families, you may be surprised on what you receive. This is a great way to aid parental engagement and respect cultural diversity.
- Add new items gradually, this allows children time to explore all resources at their own pace.
- Spend time observing children during play, watch and listen so that you can get a greater understanding of what children are doing and thinking
By introducing a mud kitchen to your outdoor area it should see many hours of quality outdoor play and it can also help extend the learning that is already learnt indoors to outdoors.
To view more ideas on Mud kitchens check out our pinterest board