View Full Version : Just a thought about mud 'kitchens'

25-03-2015, 02:33 PM
So, I've be thinking about sorting out the garden for spring and summer. I currently have a sand tray in one corner (on the old shed base) and a child size plastic table near some drawers with buckets, spades, chalk, balls, skipping ropes etc on the patio, diagonally across the garden from the sand. On the lawn in between I have a little tykes cube/slide. The children have access to compost in a couple of pots. My mind drifted towards the idea of a mud kitchen- moving the various pots, buckets, spades, spoons etc in to one area, providing the mud and calling it a mud kitchen.. Then I watched the children who were playing in my garden......

They were pretending to be Evie and her frog (from Mike the Knight) working in Evie's spell workshop. They were collecting fallen leaves, petals, bits of herbs, grass etc putting them into bucket, adding compost and then driving in the car (the climbing frame) to the beach (the sand tray) and carrying sand back across the garden a spoonful at a time, adding water and mixing it all together. The older child was then drawing and writing in her spell book (a note book).

It dawned on me that if I had set up a mud kitchen area then:
- less physical activity would have happened
-the play may have been limited to kitchen tasks due to the label of 'kitchen'
-the younger child, who is very big in to transporting at the moment, may not have participated for as long

I just want to share and find out what sort of changes to outdoor play having a 'mud kitchen' makes and any thoughts you have. :)

25-03-2015, 03:09 PM
Just what I have been thinking but not daring to mention as these mud-kitchens seem so popular at the moment!

I think they are too 'closed' in terms of purpose and pre-made-ness (is that a word?! I mean not open-ended). In my garden (no mud-kitchen) I see the children finding buckets, pots, finding sand and mud and grass and doing all kinds of things with them by themselves. They do not need a pre-made Ikea-style cabinet of a certain height- they sit on the ground or squat or walk about while mixing a bucket of magic potion. They can imagine a kitchen sink if they want to, they are clever like that, without a small bowl sunk into a hole in a piece of plywood or a well-sanded pallet. But chances are that without a pre-defined 'kitchen' set-up they are imagining and creating many other things beyond the kitchen sink.

I can imagine in a plastic-fantasic nursery garden where everything is pre-sterilized with Milton wipes that a mud-kitchen is radical, a bit edgy and daring and an easy crowd-pleaser with parents who daren't get their little dear's fingers mucky in case they wipe them on mummy's coat so are glad that they can get their dose of 'dirt' at nursery. But for a CMer with a real garden with real mud and sand and water and petals and grass and pots, buckets, spoons, guttering, planks, watering cans, sieves etc then what's the point?

I see people are selling them for £80-odd on Facebook, made from old pallets! Maybe I should get my tool kit out...

But then again, I am sure for some children and some settings they are brilliant, well used and much loved. But I won't be getting one.

25-03-2015, 03:28 PM
A brilliant observation!

I have a kitchen area in my garden but it gets moved all over the place because I like to move it into the shade in the Summer. I don't call it a mud kitchen, not sure why, but maybe because secretly I don't want them to use mud! They use sand, stones, herbs etc and it is just 'cleaner'! Don't get me wrong, we come back covered in mud from Forest School each week and one of our playgroups has just introduced a mud kitchen and they love it. Neighbours cats use our garden and so I wouldn't feel comfortable having them dig in the soil here. We buy bags of compost for our planting activities.

I think your observation shows that all areas can get stale after a while. My reading area isn't really used much at the moment and I need to give it a boost. In the past I have made a reading tent and little reading nooks in a different area of my home and all of a sudden they are all so into 'reading' again. My writing areas get moved all over the place too.

25-03-2015, 05:16 PM
I agree. I have just made an outdoor kitchen area ... mainly because the little play kitchen in the playhouse doesn't get used much... (outdoor play kitchen is a set of 3 nesting tables, one of which has a hole for a bowl! Can be stored together or moved/used where ever!)
However ... after one play with mud ... I didn't like it ! I don't have easy access to soil, so as I'd just emptied the sandpit I put compost in there ... I'm going back to sand! We already have tubs of stones, shells, fircones etc.

I am going to model and encourage no-mud play!!!

25-03-2015, 06:47 PM
I have an outdoor kitchen area, but I don't really call it anything. Because it's a great height we have been using it to sow our seeds this week, with the seed compost in the bowl part. DH designed it so that we can use it for grown up barbecues, it's great to put things on and the back is just glass ledge height - it sits next to the barbecue.

We have a digging area and have vegetable beds that also can be dug in for worm searches when we are not growing.
Like others have said the carrying back and forth is good excercise so we have little storage areas of loose natural materials which they take back and forth to all the areas. The kitchen area stores the pots pans spoons trays etc, but it definately doesn't limit play to kitchen based play. Water tap means lots of water play, herbs and petal collection when we dead head meant that last year there was always a perfumery on the go. It often is being hammered too!!

blue bear
25-03-2015, 06:56 PM
I have what looks like a mud kitchen. It was an old bunk bed and yes it's got an old sink sunk into it. The mud pit is next to it. The water butt is on the other side of the garden. We have buckets, spoons sieves, potting pots etc in various places around the garden. My lot are not keen on playing in one area or keeping a particular structure for it's 'sold' for purpose. So yes sometimes is a mud kitchen, sometimes it's a potting table, sometimes it's a water tray, maybe a bath for the dolls. But then again they mix up potions in old buckets at the other. End of the garden and cook mud dinner on pretend cookers on the patio.
To be honest the structure is just a convenient place to dump all the pots etc at the weekend. As a family we don't use our garden so. No one minds the mess and mayhem as long as the lounge is left clean and tidy.

25-03-2015, 09:59 PM
I went to home bargains and bought a load of their stainless steel kitchenware. That's my mud kitchen. It's portable, we take it to our local woods where they do regular den making etc so all the stuff can just go on the tree trunks. We take stuff with us to play with, chopped veg, cereals etc.
We also use it at home.

25-03-2015, 10:29 PM
I agree - I've been doing an assignment for my degree and it's about using loose materials in outdoor play. Yes of course you can set it up to be a kitchen but you can set it up to be for whatever whenever and so can the children. Love it.