School playgrounds have, in many ways, changed hugely over the years to incorporate various types of equipment like mud kitchens. However, it is still likely that you will find some staples, such as slides, swings and monkey bars, commonplace across the UK.
While these playground toys are big hits with children, there are more inclusive ways for children to play and to learn how to gain social confidence and develop fine motor skills during break times.
Mud kitchen playground facilities are becoming more and more popular with modern schools. While they may sound messy and unhygienic, they are perfectly safe for children of all ages to explore and dive into.
There are plenty of benefits of mud kitchens for school and nursery age children. What’s more, these playground staples are often some of the most accessible to children with hidden disabilities.
What is a Mud Kitchen?
A mud kitchen, as you might imagine, is an outdoor, pretend kitchen space. Instead of cooking up edible treats, however, children are encouraged to explore how they might use a kitchen with their imaginations, and with mud and sand. A mud kitchen not only helps to encourage children to work together to solve problems and collaborate on play ideas, but also to expand their scientific and mathematical abilities.
What’s more, mud kitchen EYFS equipment is a fantastic tool for harnessing the imagination. While children are not making food in a real kitchen, they can pretend they are creating some truly wonderful dishes and treats! A mud kitchen is an outdoor play area that is fantastic for imaginative play, which is healthy and encouraged in younger Early Years children. They can have fun making mud pies out of natural materials as well as developing creative thinking skills.
Mud kitchens are wonderful sensory playground facilities which may appeal to a wide variety of children. They are inclusive and open, meaning that children with some learning disabilities, or physical disabilities, can still join in the fun. Ideally placed near a nice patch of mud, mud kitchens are completely safe for children, though supervision is of course encouraged.
The Importance of Messy Play
In a world where we are more conscious than ever about bacteria, viruses and disease, the idea of messy play might seem off-putting. However, with clear supervision and guidance, messy play is perfectly healthy and sanitary, and in fact, it is likely to be an essential part of a child’s development.
Getting messy is exciting for kids. The world around them is still so new and appealing! Therefore, the ability to get deep and stuck into some sand, clay or mud is likely to be really enjoyable. Children likely won’t care about making a mess until they are much older!
Therefore, it’s so important to harness these moments as early on as possible. Messy play is fun, sensory and exploratory. Most children develop through direct experimentation. Rather than simply learning through direct teaching and lecturing, it is always a good idea to let kids explore the world around them with careful supervision.
How Can Messy Play Benefit a Child?
Messy play can help to support the development of young children in a variety of different ways.
- Children engaging in messy play can improve their hand-eye coordination. In a mud kitchen, for example, children may need to create specific shapes or flatten mud and sand into the form of a cake.
- Motor skills also receive plenty of development through messy play. Children can learn more about how the movements in their hands and feet change the objects and items they come across.
- Muscles and balance, too, receive support and development. In a mud kitchen, they may need to carefully pour water into a bowl to mix with mud. Mixing the mud, too, is going to need a fair amount of strength! Therefore, a kitchen will also help to improve muscle strength.
Messy play, not just mud kitchens, holds plenty of benefits for the mental and physical development of a child. What’s more, it is wide open to all children, regardless of their learning speed.
Mud Kitchen Activities
Which mud kitchen activities are likely to appeal to children the most? The possibilities are endless. A great mud kitchen might mimic the look of an everyday kitchen space. For example, you might use wooden ‘hobs’ to pretend to heat up mud soup. Children might also choose to bake a mud cake, but first, they are going to need rolling pins, spoons and measuring jugs!
The best mud kitchens allow for a wide variety of games and activities to take place. Crucially, it is all about making sure children have the access and availability to let their imaginations run riot. While you are going to need a mud kitchen to point children in a specific direction to some extent, it should never stifle their creativity or their sense of fun!
Therefore, a mud kitchen could make all the difference to an inclusive, open and fun school playground. Create a space for kids where they can safely explore the wonderful natural world around them.