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Muddy Faces

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“There is little more important in our physical world than earth and water and they are truly intriguing things, especially when they interact. Mixing soil, water and a range of other natural materials has a foundational role in early childhood which has deep importance and endless possibilities for well-being, development and learning. The breadth and depth of what these experiences offer young children is truly remarkable.”
Jan White, Making a Mud Kitchen

The story of Making a Mud Kitchen

In 2011, Professor Jan White and Liz Edwards launched a Mud Play initiative aiming to greatly increase the understanding, importance, value and range of experiences from mud play as continuous provision, and to support practitioners to achieve this (Making a Mud Kitchen, 2011). Prior to this date only a few settings in the UK provided mud play or had a mud kitchen.

Our Making a Mud Kitchen booklet was launched as a free online resource for International Mud Day in June 2012.

Within a year it had been downloaded 20,000 times, and 17,000 free copies of the printed booklet (funded by Muddy Faces) were distributed at outdoor focused conferences and training events across the UK.

The response was breath-taking and feedback so very positive. Proof of the success of the initiative is in the results: at the five year point, Mud Kitchens had become fully mainstreamed, with a very high proportion of education settings of all types, in the UK and beyond, having a mud kitchen in their outdoor provision.

To date, well in excess of 65,000 downloads of the booklet have been made worldwide and Making a Mud Kitchen has been translated into 11 different languages: Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Welsh, all available to download for free. It has also been printed in Portugal and Italy, where major early years magazines have distributed free copies to all their subscribers.

Mud play is now the norm not the exception. Mud Kitchens are wonderfully effective at opening up the outdoors by enabling child driven play and providing access to deep exploration of both the physical world and human life.

About the author

jan white photograph

Jan White is the author of Making a Mud Kitchen. She is a specialist in early childhood outdoor provision from birth to five. For more information visit her websites:

Jan and Liz Edwards from Muddy Faces have been collaborating on the Mud Campaign for many years.

Dedication

The Making a Mud Kitchen book is dedicated to all the children who have shown us the deep pleasures of mud play, and to all those practitioners who push the boundaries to enable young children access to the outdoors in an elemental and meaningful way.

Acknowledgments & thank yous

Many thanks to the children, adults and settings who have so generously shared images of their own mud kitchens at work:

  • Carol Duffy – Early Childhood Ireland
  • Jan White
  • Jane Wratten & Slinn St STARters
  • Liz Magraw, Ruth Sharpe & Hind Leys Preschool
  • Liz Knowles – Muddy Faces
  • Menna Godfrey & Quackers Preschool Playgroup
  • Suzanne Scott, Ann Thompson & Sandfield Natural Play Centre
  • Vanessa Lloyd & Christchurch County Primary School.
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