Mud kitchens are fast becoming a childhood staple. Really all you need is a patch of dirt, and some tools to provide your child with a fun play area. There are many benefits in playing in the mud, but I want to tell you about what we did for Roo’s mud kitchen.
Really, we call her mud kitchen a sensory play area.
Why? Because I don’t want to limit her pretend play to cooking mud pies. Instead this gap between my deck and shed is a space where she can get muddy, experience different textures, and create whatever her imagination comes up with.
Like I said, all you really need for a mud kitchen is a patch of dirt and a few tools, but here’s what I included in Roo’s mud kitchen/sensory play area.
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1. Work Space
I wanted a simple work space for Roo to set her tools on. It needed to be a little taller than waist high and a flat surface for working on. Any child sized table would work, but since we didn’t have a spare, I made one.
I bought two pieces of 4 x 8 plywood and four concrete blocks. Two concrete blocks went down then a piece of plywood over the top, then two more concrete blocks and the other piece of plywood. This created a shelf of sorts so tools could be stored underneath while keeping a flat work space on top.
Mud kitchen tools are pretty simple. You’ll need:
Try to get a few different sizes so your children can experiment with volume.
This is nice to hold water and to practice pouring skills.
These are needed to dig up the mud and practice transferring skills.
Toys will add another pretend play element.
Provide these for kids to clean up the plastic toys.
While not an absolute must have, this can be fun for grinding up flowers and herbs to include in their creations.
Children will be practicing their pincer grip while picking leaves off plants to grind up into their mud pies or picking flowers to decorate their kitchen. I included a sensory garden for Roo in her mud kitchen. It was full of colorful flowers, strong smelling herbs, and safe to taste leaves. The long window planter sits on her workspace. But you can just put the mud kitchen near a plant or bush that is okay for kids to pick leaves off.
Especially in the dry months of Summer, you’ll need a way to add water to your patch of dirt to create mud. A bucket or pitcher of water is fine, or spraying down the area with the hose works too.
But I wanted something a little different for Roo’s sensory play area.
With most of our public pools and splash pads closing this Summer due to the pandemic, I wanted to make a special water feature for Roo. So I made a DIY Splash pad style sprinkler!
For this one I used 1 inch PVC pipes, but I recommend using smaller 1/2 inch pipes to create less water volume to fill and more spray power. I just happened to have 1 inch on hand from another project.
I made a simple rectangle shape, but I’ve seen other shapes and designs too! For a rectangle you’ll need:
4 long pvc pipes (about the height of your child or taller)
8 shorter pvc pipes of equal size (mine were 3 feet)
1 short piece of pvc pipe (mine is about 1 foot)
4 elbow side outlet type pipe caps of the same size as your pipes
1 T style pipe cap
1 threaded adapter
You’ll also need a drill for holes in the pipes
Piecing together the rectangle is pretty straight forward. It’s the connection to the hose that tripped me up a bit.
You’ll have to cut one of your shorter pipes in half and reconnect them with the elbow side outlet. Connect the threaded adapter to the outlet using the shortest piece of pipe. Now you can twist the hose into the threaded side of the adapter.
Decide where you want water to spray from and how much pressure you want.
More holes = less pressure
This sprinkler has a double feature. One is to create mud while your kids play in the water, the other is a fun way to wash the mud off when they’re done playing!
5. Clean up
Like I said, the sprinkler or just a spray down from the hose will work to clean up after a good play in the mud. But for days she gets less dirty or it’s too cold for the water hose, I provide a bucket with soapy water and a wash rag. When she’s done we wipe her down with the rag and soap, and she loves to play in the bubbles.
I love to let Roo play in the mud when possible. What are your views on mud play?