This may not look like much, but we’ve been testing our mud pie kitchen and getting a fresh perspective on what works. It used to reside in another part of our yard, and I thought that moving it might make it more accesible. And it did!! I fashioned the stove/sink from two wooden crates I found at a craft store last summer. Next, mud pie tools were gathered from our sand box: buckets, bowls, and a jello mold picked up at a second hand store for a dollar. We got the measuring cups at our last trip to IKEA, and carried pots and pans outside from the indoor play kitchen.
I filled the big green tub with water and we called it the “sink,” and N got busy making soup. She owned the kitchen right from the start and there was no end to what she wanted to create.
The sink got muddy pretty quickly, so she requested another pail full of clean water. Some kids love the mud, mine tolerates it.
The kitchen was set up next to some flowery bushes, which made for a convenient food pantry.
She carefully pressed flowers into the mud like sprinkles on a cake. The contrast was gorgeous. We started this pretty late in the day, and she would have played out there all night if she could have. She actually told me that she wanted to skip dinner because she wasn’t hungry. So I guess the whole test kitchen thing went well!
When she was all done, we poured the dirt back into the ground and the kitchen is ready for our next cooking adventure.
What I learned about making a Mud Pie Kitchen
- The Mud Pie Kitchen is an incredible way to encourage imaginative play, which can lead to creative thinking, curiosity, and experimentation
- The kitchen does not have to be elaborate to work
- It should be child-height
- It’s nice to have multiple levels or surfaces to work on
- Set it up directly in or next to dirt/mud/sand
- Have a water source nearby
- Fill a large container with water
- Useful tools: spoons, bowls, spades, colander, pitcher
- Use real kitchen tools to reinforce that play is work (to children, it is!)
- Include something fancy like a jello mold
- If there aren’t natural materials nearby (like flower petals), forage for them ahead of time
More Mud Pie Kitchens
Amy at Child Central Station has been busy scouring the internet for mud pie kitchens, and you can see her comprehensive list here.
And Jenny at Let the Children Play is a master of the mud pie kitchen. Here’s one of her round-ups, full of good ideas for getting started.