Messy Yummy Mud!
When I had my own preschool classroom, one of the favorite items was the wooden kitchen. It had belonged to my daughter and was so well made that it withstood several years of preschool play. (When my daughter began to plan for a family of her own, I retrieved it from a local Waldorf program. I will be setting it up for my grandson soon!) Most children enjoy cooking with tiny pots and pans, turning the faucet and opening the oven door. I enjoy saving miniature kitchen items, such as a colorful sea salt box with a real cork lid.
A mud kitchen is an outdoor version of the traditional indoor children's kitchen. There are beautiful wooden versions to buy or make. Check out Etsy. If it's not in your budget or aligned with your values to buy a ready made mud kitchen, consider creating one out of recycled crates or small tree stumps. You might find inspiration on Pinterest.
At Emerald Heart, we have a super simple portable mud kitchen. It's an old picnic basket that is filled with metal and wooden bowls and tiny platters, measuring cups, tongs, spoons, a real flour sifter with crank (the favorite!), cardboard egg cartons, etc.
Last week, Emerald Heart children asked me to photograph their cakes, pies and soups. Sadly, there were no leftovers to take home for dinner.
I realize that not all adults are into messy muddy play. If that's you, I hope that the benefits might help sway you. ;) Because, in fact, there are many benefits to this type of play whether it be in your own yard or outdoor classroom. Some benefits are:
greater mental health gained by playing freely outdoors
greater mental health- research shows that dirt contains Mycobacterium Vaccae, bacteria which increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, an endorphin that soothes and calms
greater physical health- studies show that we need dirt in our systems for a healthy immune system
kinesthetic learning through combinations of natural materials
developing curiosity through open-ended play and exploration
developing mathematical thinking through measuring, filling and emptying
developing creativity through imaginative role play
developing language through descriptive words, scientific exploration and storytelling
scientific exploration as materials are combined, mixed, transferred and changed
developing fine motor skills through use of tools
developing social skills through cooperative play
Mud, marvelous mud! The benefits are many. The possibilities are endless.
Mark your calendar. June 29th is International Mud Day!
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