This week the Preschool House educators decided to build a mud kitchen in the garden. For a while they had been admiring mud kitchens on other early childhood education blogs and on Pinterest, and when the opportunity arose for them to build one this week, they took it. The educators were possibly more excited than the children!
A mud kitchen is exactly what it sounds like it would be; a play space designed around the idea that children can cook with mud. Preschool House built their mud kitchen down towards the middle left of the garden, next to an existing decking space that was underused. The space is clearly defined by half buried rocks and logs, with a space left at the front to indicate a doorway. Whilst the mud kitchen was being built, the children wondered what they might do with this space; bake cupcakes? Jump in muddy puddles? Have a picnic? Watching the construction helped the children plan and imagine what might happen there, so when the mud kitchen was officially opened in the afternoon, they were ready to go, play plans in mind.
Over the first few days, the Preschool House educators noticed a distinct change in the way the children played in and used spaces within the garden. Play seemed more purposeful, and children remained involved over a longer period of time. Children seemed to slow down and really focus on their work. Different dynamics began to appear as children made new connections in this new space.
The Early Years Learning Framework talks about children’s environments containing natural elements such as rocks, mud and water (pg. 16) and the mud kitchen provides children with an opportunity to explore these elements purposefully. The Preschool House educators are keen to continue documenting the play and learning that takes place in the mud kitchen as children become more familiar with it. They are also interested in adding large pots of herbs and plant life that could be added to the children’s concoctions.
What might you add to the mud kitchen?