Let’s Talk about Mud & Mud Kitchens!
Most frequently asked questions
Welcome and hello! Today I will be answering the most frequently asked questions that I receive from teachers and parents about dirt, mud, and Mud Kitchens. Enjoy!
What got you started with outdoor classrooms and your interest in Mud Kitchens? My interest in Outdoor Classrooms and Mud Kitchens started when my children were in pre-school and kindergarten. The empty lot next to the front door of their school inspired me to gather our community, plant seeds of inspiration and to spearhead an Outdoor Classroom in this outdoor space. I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about Outdoor Classrooms. There were several amazing moments, however, when I witnessed 5th graders planting bulbs for the first time, I knew something was wrong. I never turned back. I continued to witness children learning outdoors and making connections they couldn’t do indoors. These experiences changed my way of thinking about education and changed my entire philosophy of education. Therefore, I have become a change agent, advocate for outdoor classrooms and founded Outdoor-Classrooms.com. I love inspiring teachers with the tools to teach outdoors. Mud Kitchens are one of my all-time favorite outdoor learning stations because there are so many learning opportunities that can happen in this “maker space.”
How do you work with programs that have outdoor space challenges? The way I look at it is accepting that every outdoor space is completely different. Some programs have lot’s of green space and land, while others only have a black top or rubber landscape with a huge climber. This is not my focus. My focus is on what is the same. What are the elements that we can add to these spaces that are easy and have the most impact on child development? Mud Kitchens are ideal for this. They can be made from up-cycled materials and they too, come in all shapes and sizes. They can be small and simple or large and elaborate. No matter what your space challenge, adding a mud kitchen is possible.
Why Dirt? Mud? This is such a great question as the next generation of children are not playing enough outdoors and getting dirty. This is having an impact on their development. Mud and Dirt are important. Here are a few examples why:
- Mud encourages creativity and offers opportunities for creative expression
- Mud offers opportunities to problem solve independently and groups
- Invites children to use their fine and gross motor skills
- Allows children to practice listening and taking turns
- Plays a role in our mood. Mud makes us happier
- Develops skills in how to care for the environment
- Invites inclusive play opportunities
- Build stronger immune systems
- Invites a total sensory experience
- Benefits the heart and skin
What is a Mud Kitchen? Mud Kitchens, also known as an outdoor kitchen or mud pie kitchen and is one of the best resources for little ones to play outside as kids playhouse. Mud kitchens are a very popular playground resource for nursery schools because they are very cross-curricular, meaning that they can be used to reach many learning objectives from the Early childhood curriculum. Mud kitchens provide great outdoor learning spaces for young children and come in all shapes and sizes.
What makes a great Mud Kitchen? What I love about Mud Kitchens are they can be made into our own one is a one-of-a-kind outdoor play space. I love that they can be created from up-cycling materials and despite the different designs, all Mud Kitchens can have the same impact. What makes a great Mud Kitchen are the key elements. They are…
- Loose Parts
- Child Size Places to work
- Real pots and pans
- Easy access to water
- Storage for loose parts and kitchen equipment
- Children’s imaginations
- A change of clothes for children = freedom to get dirty!
Why add water and water walls? First, water and dirt make MUD! So it’s important to have easy access to the water. Depending on your comfort level and how much you want the children to get dirty on any given day, you can control how much water the children can use. Adding a water wall near the Mud Kitchen is a no-brainer. Leaving loose parts around for the children to create their own water walls is ideal. There is so much to explore and an incredible amount of open-ended learning that happens. Invite the children to explore how to get the water into the Mud Kitchen. The possibilities are endless.
Why is storage so important? I am always asked about the best storage ideas for the Mud Kitchen. The first rule is, if you are keeping your pots, pans and kitchen materials outdoors, make sure you store them in something that has holes. This is important for the water to filter out when it rains. Nothing worse than a bucket full of pots and pans soaking in rainwater. Look for crates, barrels, and baskets. Labeling your storage containers is a great way to add Literacy to your outdoor space.
Did you enjoy this little question and answer post? Want to learn more about Mud Kitchen? Check out the More than Mud Pies: Making a Mud Kitchen e-Course.
Have any additional questions about dirt, mud and Mud Kitchens? Write them in the comments below.