Love the idea of a mud kitchen but don’t have the space for one? Me either. This simple DIY mud kitchen for kids is the perfect solution. Creating this easy outdoor activity gives kids all the fun and joy of a traditional mud kitchen.
What is a mud kitchen?
A mud kitchen is a designated space in a yard where kids are free to create with dirt and water. Kitchen tools and other household items are usually present to support the creation of mud pies, cupcakes, and other delicious dishes.
The idea in and of itself is fantastic.
Kids having a space to play with dirt is wonderful.
But…. if you Google mud kitchens or head to Ye Olde Pinterest, you’ll see the images of mud kitchens are anything but simple and basic.
These things have gotten elaborate. Gorgeous? Yes. Do I absolutely wish I could have one for my kids? Of course.
But we can’t. We don’t have the space. And it is what it is.
Since I still want my kids to have fun creating mud concoctions, I concocted a solution: a DIY mud kitchen for kids.
And it’s perfection.
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Kids don’t need fancy to have fun
Repeating this line for emphasis: Kids don’t need fancy to have fun.
Just because this mud kitchen was dripping in beauty or coordination – well, that didn’t matter to the kids.
Would a fancy one be “prettier”? Of course it would! But kids don’t need fancy for an activity to be engaging and effective.
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- A large storage container (like this 41 qt one from Target)
- Smaller bins or bowls (like these dish pans)
- Scoops, bowls, cups, and other kitchen tools
Oh and water, dirt, and yard clippings. A bowl of each item was necessary.
I set the space on our patio as an “invitation” for my kids. An “invitation to play.” An “invitation to create.” An “invitation to get messy.”
The reaction to the DIY mud kitchen for kids
Having this muddy set up on the ground level for the kids was so crucial.
It gave my kids (6, 5, 4) the best possible vantage point to their play and let them really move in and around it.
Sometimes, taking play and moving it to a different area is all we need to spice up the fun level.
That’s exactly what happened when I put this mud kitchen set up on the patio, away from our actually cheap outdoor kitchen.
How does a DIY mud kitchen promote learning?
Oh, this kind of activity has so much learning for children.
- Sensory / tactile learning
- Science (the mixing of materials and nature exploration)
- Life skills
- Fine motor skills
- Cooperative learning
- Imaginative play
This isn’t just about making a mess on the patio. There is so much more here than just messy play.
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Tip – Simple activities are the best
Look how simple this was, but look how engaging it was.
It’s been over a week since I made this activity and guess what I can still see on my patio? This set up.
I’ve added a little more to it but the bones remain the same. Why? Because sometimes the simplest activities end up holding their attention the longest.
Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t let them back in. Hear me out: If my kids are playing a really messy, muddy game, I lock the backdoor. They have to knock for reentry. This way, no one forgets they’re muddy and comes running through my backdoor. If it’s really bad, I strip them at the door and carry them to the tub.
I rinsed everything out with a hose and put things away. These are supplies we use for activities only and outdoor play so nothing needed to become “food safe.”
Depends on a lot more factors than age: developmental level, interest, ability to create, dramatic play skills, etc. Think about your child and their safety around dirt. Some toddlers will love this activity. Some seven year olds will hate it. It’s more about knowing the kid than judging the activity by an age range.