Mud kitchen: A place for children’s play, learning and experience
Corresponding to the time of the year this blog post deals with an outdoor activity: the mud kitchen. I learned about the mud kitchen first in the ECEC Centre “Leonardo” in Gütersloh, which is led by Stefanie Kobben, who is a real mud kitchen enthusiast. So, what is the mud kitchen all about? It is a custom-made play kitchen, which is usually made of discarded items. By this it is a good example for an upcycling project. The mud kitchen is made of weatherproof materials so that it can be part of an outdoor playground. It is not the ambition to create a perfect reproduction of an adult kitchen. In fact the mud kitchen should provide stimuli for stirring, filling, mixing, pouring…the mud kitchen doesn’t only encourage role play, but also sensory experiences and experiments with different materials.
That’s why the mud kitchen is a concrete example for a multivalent opportunity für children’s play. Schofield und Kelly (2015) make clear, that „resources that have been designed for a particular purpose can limit childrens thinking … a plastic sausage can only be a sausage whereas acorns or conkers can be used to represent almost any food in a cafe role-play area.“ (p. 97). For this reason a typical mud kitchen contains abstract items, which can be used for manifold purposes.
Another plus factor: The mud kitchen provides opportunities for role-play, explorative learning and delicate sensory experiences in an outdoor setting. The importance of play and learning outside is increasingly recognized by educators. Outdoor learning opportunities enable cognitive, social and health development (e.g. Knight 2013).
Here you can find some examples for mud kitchens:
Knight, Sarah (2013): Forest School and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years. Second Edition. London: Sage.
Stead, Di/Kelly, Lois (Hrsg.) (2015): Inspiring Science in the Early Years: Exploring Good Practice. New York: Open University Press