Mud kitchens have become more and more popular in recent years, but what is it?
Simply put, a mud kitchen is a dedicated space where your child can take the concept of mud pies to a whole new level.
The first mud kitchens to show up on Pinterest were made using wood from disassembled pallets and an old kitchen sink.
The idea is that kids can use this space as an outdoor ‘kitchen’, mixing dirt, water, petals, leaves and anything else they might find around the yard. Just give them a few old kitchen utensils and let their imaginations run wild.
Now that mud kitchens are more popular, you might find a local handyperson selling handmade ones in your area. Sometimes they’ll have four black circles painted on the counter to represent a stovetop, a container over the sink to hold water, or a hose underneath to drain water away. You can even purchase them from a number of large retailers now.
What are the benefits?
Mud kitchens are taking over from the backyard sand pit, and it’s not hard to see why. A mud kitchen allows for more creativity and a wider range of sensory experiences. Plus it provides an opportunity to imitate the behaviour of adults, which children love.
Of course, a mud kitchen isn’t essential for playing with mud. But it can make the idea more appealing to kids, especially those who aren’t very familiar with nature play and messy play.
How to get a mud kitchen?
There are a heap of DIY mud kitchen tutorials out there but some might make you feel out of your depth if you’re not very handy.
A mud kitchen doesn’t have to cost a lot or take a huge amount of time to make.
If you’re looking for something simple, head to your local second-hand shop and buy some big buckets and cooking utensils. Grab some sand and dirt from your local garden or landscape business and your kids will have a blast. This kind of setup will cost no more than $50.
When to get a mud kitchen?
You know your child best, but mud kitchens seem to be the most popular and most developmentally appropriate in children from about 4 to 11 years old.
Does it get messy?
Is it worth it though? Of course!
Simply, set a few basic rules (like nothing from the mud kitchen comes inside) and leave a bowl of clean soapy water at the door with a towel and the clean-up is relatively easy.
Where to put your mud kitchen?
Consider the climate and weather in your part of the world. Try to place your mud kitchen in an area that gets a bit of sun but is shady during the time your child generally likes to go outside and play. Putting it within reach of a hose will make clean-up easier. Other than that, just pick a spot where you won’t mind too much when your child spills dirt and mud on the ground!
Whether you intend to build a mud kitchen or set up an inexpensive mud play space in your backyard, The Muddy Chef book will inspire your kids to make the recipes in the book and expand on their own muddy creations. It’s a cookbook but not for making food. Instead, you’ll find muddy recipes like unlickable lasagne, mud and seed cupcakes and nature’s nachos.
I hope you can now answer the question “What is a mud kitchen?” Your kids will love playing with mud and you will be thrilled by all the learning, creativity, and outdoor play this special backyard play space will promote.