It’s summer in Wisconsin, making it a great time to introduce children to a new type of playground: a mud kitchen. A few plastic bowls and spoons in the mud can be turned into a gourmet kitchen or factory line, dependent on your imagination. By molding whatever food or creative object a child’s mind can imagine, the possibilities are endless.

Playing outdoors and exploring nature is not only fun and exciting, it’s also a healthy experience for children. Outdoor play can increase children’s overall happiness, while also stimulating the immune system. The natural and earthy materials in a mud kitchen are fantastic for sensory play. Combining the mud with leaves, flowers, and other items found in the yard can further expand the sensory experiences. 

Children can work on problem solving skills by figuring out how much water makes the mud too runny to mold, or work on measurement skills with how much can be fit into cups and bowls. Since the only limitations are the imagination, a mud kitchen allows children to work together cooperatively or to stretch their individual creativity alone.

The basics of a mud kitchen is mud and whatever you can find naturally on the ground, but adding old bowls and pots can open the door to more creative possibilities. If you don’t want kids sitting in the mud, setting up a bench or folding table can provide a workspace. A tree trunk or piece of plywood on cinder blocks can also act as alternatives.

Discover new child care resources and ideas and connect with other child care professionals by joining the Vesta Support Group or the United Child Care Providers of Sauk County group pages on Facebook.