29th June marks International Mud Day! There are many ways to celebrate the wonder of mud but one of the most popular and beneficial ways of engaging with mud is through a mud kitchen! A mud kitchen is an imaginative space where children of a wide age range can use utensils to make mud food using mud (of course) and a host of other natural objects. These are growing in popularity in schools and children’s play spaces across Britain so what are the benefits?
-Letting the imagination run wild! Mud kitchens facilitate imaginative play- mud? dandelions? grass? or a delicious stew? The sky is the limit because mud kitchens encourage creative thinking,
-Developing real cooking skills- in the mud kitchen children can explore texture and colour by manipulating the mud into anything from a mud ball to a splodge! They can use a variety of utensils to help them do this.
-Encouraging co-operative play “I’ll make the dinner, you make the dessert”- mud kitchens are much more fun when there’s more than one child playing.
-Engaging with the natural world- who needs play dough or plastic bananas when you’ve got a wonderful resource available which isn’t constrained by adult imaginations!
-Building up the immune system- studies show that exposing children to some dirt and getting them outside can actually enhance their immune system- take a look at this for more information on the health benefits of mud.
Ingredients for a Successful Mud Kitchen
A Good Selection of Real, Recycled Utensils– When we’re working outside we need our tools to be robust as plastic can break if it gets trodden on or if any sort of rigour is applied! Go to your local charity shop and look at what they have to offer. Obviously, bear in mind how well supervised the mud kitchen will be when deciding on which utensils will be appropriate. Metal bowls and wooden spoons work well but make sure you get a variety of utensils that allow the children to get really creative with the texture like sieves, rolling pins and so on.
Satisfy the Senses – You’re obviously going to need a source of dirt to get your mud kitchen up and running but what else do you have available? Strong smelling herbs, colourful calendulas or textured pine cones make a great accompaniment to a mud kitchen and allow more opportunity for creativity to kick in.
A Source of Water – Water can really help to create all kinds of muddy texture and having a space where the children can wash their utensils after is handy and usually makes for part of the fun!
I hope you found this helpful and that you have some inspiration to celebrate mud day! Happy digging 🙂