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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

See our Mud Pie Kitchen Series

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22 Comments

  1. Yay! So glad it working out for N. The set up is so simple, and I think it should always be, because it’s important to leave room for the kids to define the space for themselves. Thanks for sharing. I like the idea of the bowl of fresh water being the sink. We’ll try this the next time we’re out making mud pies.

    • thanks, jena. i agree with you that oftentimes the simple things are better because they leave more room for imagination and creativity.

  2. Oh, this is a new idea to me! Having had boys, they were always content to dig a hole in the side of the yard and add water to that. I’ll have to see about setting up a “kitchen” nearby to use the unearthed dirt!

    • digging holes in the yard is fabulous too, amy!

  3. Hehe…we have a fresh ‘stew’ brewing in our carport made yesterday after the girls scoured our vast collection of weeds for just the right ingredients. Too cute not to post their photos on my blog.
    Here in Australia, we have secondhand shops or op-shops = perfect places to find cubby house and sandpit supplies for only a few dollars.

    • Ha! I adore second hand shops, which is where we found the sweet shiny jello mold. There are so many good things to be found for children to repurpose!

    • Great minds think alike, right? Thanks for the comment, Jill!

  4. It’s fabulous! I love that you haven’t tried to be extravagant. If we are honest, it’s always to make us happy rather than the child isn’t it? (thinking of over the top imaginative play scenes I have created!) Looks like she had great fun and is happy playing outside again- yay!

    • So true, Anna. And I’m thrilled that she’s happily engaged outdoors. The culprit, I think, is our spotty yard that’s full of splintery wood chips. A big summer project to clean it up, unfortunately!

  5. The yellow flowers pressed into her mud cake is just gorgeous! Hope your next mud pie kitchen is just as adventurous and exploratory 🙂

    • Thanks, Jeanne!! I love the spot of color too!

  6. this beta version is ready for launch! sooo inviting for little minds and hands!

  7. Really cool! Looks like she had a lot of fun. I’m inspired to see how to work this into what I’m doing.

    • I need to pop over and see what you’re up to Scott!!

  8. Yeah, we just set up outdoor kitchen few weeks ago and a beans tepee. Eiya loves to play there with the water. We haven’t tried mud. We have sand available. She has been making lots of things for her animals and us. Definitely a great outdoor play space for little one.

    • Hi Sheau, I wish I built a bean teepee this summer. I wonder if it’s not too late? I think sand and mud are almost interchangeable.

  9. I love this idea and the crates are super cute. I cannot wait to set up an outdoor kitchen for my daughter and sons!

  10. […] In light of the important international climate change conversation, here are three earth-focussed activities you can try with your child: make your own recycled paper, make a fairy garden, build and then create in a mud kitchen […]

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