22nd February 2022 Insights Expert Advice

Early Years Mud Kitchen Ideas

Mud kitchens are a popular and beneficial addition to any outdoor learning space, but it’s important to be aware and remember that a ‘mud kitchen’ doesn’t have to be a pre-made, professionally built piece of equipment. 

Mud kitchens enable children to combine the natural world with their natural curiosity and develop their imaginative play skills, as well as being a fantastic sensory play opportunity. 

No other resource provides opportunities for such immersive, exciting and creative open-ended play as a mud kitchen in our experience.

Dependent on your location and access to outdoor space, a mud kitchen does not have to be a permanent feature either. 

There are of course some key elements to all mud kitchen areas, but these can be adapted to your provision and space; 

  • However you choose to create your mud kitchen, positioning is key, so anywhere near a mud source is ideal so that children don’t have to venture far from their play in order to keep their mud supply well-stocked, thus not hindering the creativity and flow of their play.
  • A supply of water (doesn’t have to be a hose or a tap, a bucket will do!)
  • A range of receptacles, spoons and equipment. 

For those creating a less permanent mud kitchen area, large pots, bowls and receptacles near a mud source are ideal for bringing out as and when you need; arrange these in conjunction with other receptacles (saucepans, jugs, spoons, bowls, cups etc) coupled with perhaps smaller containers featuring an interesting array of loose parts and natural resources as well as jugs of water and there you have your very own home-made mud kitchen!

There are a range of natural resources and set-ups that can be added to a mud kitchen to enhance the area: 

  • Gravel,
  • Pebbles or stones
  • Plants
  • Flowers and/or petals
  • Grass
  • Herbs
  • Spices (in jars)
  • Shells 
  • Straw 
  • Water (coloured with food colouring)

Adding a varied range of natural resources enables children to be even more creative with their concoctions and can completely change the dynamic of the children’s play, especially if the mud kitchen is a permanent fixture in your setting, adding new natural resources or ‘ingredients’ has the potential to completely re-ignite the area in seconds. 

Your mud kitchen area, whether it be permanent or pack-away can be a continual work in progress and by constantly adding new and random utensils and appliances, will only enhance the children’s enjoyment of the space as well as their role play and learning. You could add: 

  • An old/broken microwave
  • Broken coffee machine
  • Teapots/Jugs/Sugar bowls 
  • A pestle and mortar
  • Scissors
  • Cheese grater
  • Whisks 
  • Measuring cups and spoons 
  • An old food processor or blender 
  • Chopping boards 

The beauty of a mud kitchen is that whether it is a permanent part of your outdoor space, whatever you add to it, it allows children to freely develop their imaginative play, embrace a diverse range of sensory experiences and can totally revolutionise a child’s approach to outdoor play, getting messy and playing independently or as part of a larger group, all through adding small, simple extra features or resources that you have laying around the house that can completely enhance and develop the simplest of play experiences, 

Mud kitchen can transform a child’s solitary independent play into a beautifully collaborative period of play with their peers and caregivers in any given moment as a result of whatever is available to you and them on any given day. 

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