Outdoor Mud Kitchen Ideas- Learning Through Play Outside
Mud Kitchens are a fun way to get children pouring, mixing, using their imaginations and engaging in pretend play. Children can also create their own mixtures for sensory play. Children love mixing dirt, sand, water, sticks, and other bits of plants that they can find outside. They can make mud pies, cakes or soups and then mix up different potions as part of their imaginative play. Children can explore how dirt and sand changes as water is added and many children enjoy touching the mud and seeing how it feels in their hands.
The mud kitchen is a natural place to learn and explore measuring as children can fill and empty containers of different shapes and sizes.
What you need
- jugs/ measuring cups
- cupcake tins
- things for children to mix up – mud, sand, water, natural seasonal items (see below).
I’ve saved our old pots, pans, spoons and other kitchenware for our own mud kitchen at home. It is nice if you can use some of your own old cooking utensils as then children feel like it is their own kitchen. I set out a little bit of dirt, sand, water and some seasonal plant items (e.g. in spring- flowers & blossoms, in summer- green leaves, rose petals, in autumn- conquers, acorns, dried leaves, in winter- twigs, winter berries).
Questions to ask
- What happens when you add water? Sand? Dirt?
- How does it feel when you mix it / touch it?
- How many cups do you need to fill the bowl?
- When will you know it is full?
What they get from it
Children can begin to learn about volume and capacity by filling and pouring different containers. Through their own play they can explore pouring different shaped and sized containers one into the other, giving them the opportunity to explore and develop an understanding of capacity and volume. Pouring and mixing can also be a natural and spontaneous way for children to build core muscle and strength which is essential to acquire the physical dexterity to write. It is also great for sensory play and to explore how dirt changes as water and/or sand or other items are mixed in with it. Children can use their imaginations and even work collaboratively with others to create spectacular pies, cakes or meals. Giving their ‘food’ to others is a natural way for children to begin to practice sharing with others.
It’s the perfect activity for a hot sunny day or a cold drizzly one! Just make sure the children are wearing old clothes or waterproofs as things can get messy. 🙂
Outdoor Mud Kitchen Ideas- Take it further
Add in flowers, plants, and spices for children to make other creations in the mud kitchen and to provide additional sensory experiences. Other plants and spices from your garden and cupboard such as lavender, rosemary, thyme or roses, that have strong smells are perfect for allowing children to mix up potions or add to their mud pies. Measuring cups and measuring spoons would also give children the opportunity to explore measurement. If you have plastic balancing scales, children could use those in the mud kitchen for children to explore weight and mass.