Choose the place
Section 2 of the Making a Mud Kitchen book.
Age Range: all ages
Duration: 1-2 hours
Time Of Day: any time
Category: outdoor play
Choose the Place
The kitchen needs a handy and ample supply of the basic materials of sand and/or mud.
Offering both provides contrast in colour, texture and mixing behaviour – and many more possibilities for imaginations. Being situated near the sand area or mud patch may give the kitchen more context and meaning, but big pots of these basic materials will also be fine, preferably at floor level for ease of access.
Mud kitchens that have walls, fences or other vertical surfaces on one or two sides then have potential for hanging pots and utensils on them or for installing shelving, making it feel more kitchen-like and better to use.
A corner also creates room-like enclosure that feels cosy and safe, which research suggests is good at generating dramatic play in young children.
A water supply is essential, but it does not need to be in the kitchen or even close-by, as children love to fill containers both large and small to transport across to the kitchen for use. Make sure however that there are several types of collecting containers for this activity and an ample (preferably running) water source, such as an outdoor tap, water butt or a large container of water.
Gravel, pebbles and other natural materials are also natural companions for concoction making. If these are not generally available in the outdoor space, then good-sized containers need to be kept topped up for good supplies (consider drainage of these if kept in the open air).
Plant material is also an important ingredient of a good mud kitchen. This can be anywhere – children just need permission to pick and gather – and some agreed boundary rules so that plants can keep supplying! Lots of robust, pickable plants spread around the whole outdoor space are ideal.
One last thought is to locate the kitchen near to compatible activities, such as good places for den play, as these complementary aspects of provision will enhance each other, enriching experience for the children.