You see beautiful mud kitchens all over the Internet. In the last few years they’ve become the thing to have in your garden and outside spaces at school. They range from simple pallets with a few hooks and a bowl to full on working kitchens outside.
There are lots of benefits to the mud kitchen though, that go beyond the trends. They are a means to get children of all ages outside and exploring, communicating, using all their senses and learning. I’ve written a list below of the benefits I see for the mud kitchen.
Our mud kitchen at our new house was created by the children themselves. We had a purpose made mud kitchen at our old house and have been saving old pots and pans for a few years. The box of these came to the new house but the mud kitchen itself stayed. We have a little nook next to the back door with a stone seat and mill stone table. Joseph and Alice created their own kitchen using the bits we had and it was perfect. What is more it meant that we had a break through and they both played outside without me there (I was able to go inside to prepare dinner). This is a big deal!
Benefits of the mud kitchen
- It encourages outside play. We all know the benefits of children playing outside and the mud kitchen is an invitation to do just that. Aiding mental and physical health.
- It encourages communication. The mud kitchen enables children and adults to talk to each other and ask questions. It also is an opportunity to extend vocabulary and to use descriptive language.
- It is now widely recognised that we need dirt in our lives. I know some parents worry about their children getting muddy because it is ‘dirty’ but it is actually hugely beneficial for our immune systems. Embrace the mud!!
- Children are able to use real equipment that develops fine motor skill.
- There is a good opportunity for using mathematical and scientific vocabulary and skills like pouring, estimating and counting.
- It is open ended. Their play can be imaginative, making dinner or a tea party. It can be simply exploratory or a practice of transferring skills.
Don’t feel a mud kitchen has to be the beautiful things you see online. Once dirt and mud and a windy day has swept over it they all look the same! (Funny how you don’t often see a ‘used’ mud kitchen on Pinterest) A simple bowl and spoon outside with some access to water and natural objects is all you need to be giving your child some of the benefits listed above.