Thursday, 27 February 2020

Mud Kitchen | Ideas & Accessories for Outdoor Play | EYFS

Would you like to understand more about what a mud kitchen is? What the benefits are of having a mud kitchen in your outdoor area? How can you you effectively use a mud kitchen and plan for activities? Where can you buy a mud kitchen and accessories and what are the learning outcomes? 



This post aims to give some useful ideas and inspiration for using your mud kitchen effectively for outdoor play...


 mud kitchen with pump action sink, large outdoor blackboard and pet bowl mini mud kitchen


For young children to really benefit from outdoor play, the outdoor area should be an extension of the indoor area - not a simply a separate place for 'limited' playtime, a reward for hard work or somewhere to simply 'have a run around'. I have talked before about this separation of indoor and outdoor play, and the negative consequences that this can have in my post about the importance of learning through play outside which can be found here. One of the key pieces of equipment for an outdoor learning space, which will tie into lots of different areas of learning is to have a mud kitchen. Whether you are looking to encourage role play, speaking and listening, relationship building, mathematical concepts or simply to create a space where children can learn and explore and play with what they know - a mud kitchen provides endless possibilities...


Mud Kitchen | Ideas & Accessories for Outdoor Play | EYFS 

Would you like to buy this mud kitchen and accessories?


Buy plastic jars here 

Other Mud Kitchen Resources: UK List   /  USA List
* Contains Affiliate links - purchasing through these links will not cost you anymore, but I may earn commission on qualifying purchases which go towards the running costs of this blog.

 mud kitchen with working sink plastic jars and real teapot


What is a Mud Kitchen?


A mud kitchen is an area, either purpose built or fashioned out of natural / recycled materials, where children are able to take on a role, use their imaginations and engage in meaningful, sensory play - either alone or alongside others. The key ingredient is of course  mud, but can also include other foraged and found natural resources such as sticks, gravel, stones, herbs, flowers, plants and weeds. Containers are an important resource for a mud kitchen, so that children are able to mix their 'ingredients' and try out their concoctions, as is the addition of water... if nothing else, a bucket or a bowl, some sticks and some mud are all you really need to get going, the rest is down to your imagination!


buckets and sticks in the forest for a mud kitchen
Photo credit - D Wicks, FB group member



Why have a Mud Kitchen-  What are the benefits?


Resources which help to promote imaginative play are beneficial for children of all ages. Role play is such a valuable learning experience - it can be used to introduce so many learning opportunities in a fun and meaningful way - the key is how you extend the learning by provocations, modelling and questioning, depending on what your focus is.

Aside from the opportunity to learn lots of concepts through play, it is widely believed that it is beneficial for children to play outdoors amongst mud and soil in order to build their immune systems. Outdoor play has positive benefits to mental health and well-being, helps to increase a natural exposure to vitamin D, fresh air, exercise and the ability to work alongside and engage with others during play. 


Where to buy a Mud Kitchen?


There are many options for buying or building your own mud kitchen. Palettes and recycled / reclaimed materials can be used to make your own or you can buy pre-made mud kitchens, purpose built resources or clever resources hacks online and in store. Here are a few of my favourites:


mini mud kitchen made fro double pet feeding bowls

Using mini pet bowls such as these is  great way of creating a mini mud kitchen on a budget, or within a smaller area, and of course, they can be moved around or put away easily if needed.

( Click on image above to visit Amazon for product info )

Mud kitchen with pump action water tap:

mud kitchen from studio with working water pump tap

This mud kitchen from Studio has a working tap with a pump action - the water is contained underneath the top layer tap and is reused once the water goes down the sink hole and into the container underneath, ready to be pumped back out. The sink can be removed for ease of cleaning, or, just to use on its own such as here:

water pump action play tap on tuff tray




For more online mud kitchens and resources, you can view my mud kitchen list here:





Where to put a Mud Kitchen?


If you are choosing a place for your mud kitchen at home or within a setting, finding a little cosy corner, or wall space will help to keep this separate from other areas which may be utilised outside. Make sure there is a good supply of mud, soil and water. Having natural resources growing nearby which the children are able to forage would be a good idea, as well as extra space for mixing and making! 

If possible, try to include a mark making area closeby, so that the children are able to write menus, take orders or make signs or recipes for their mud kitchen:

 large outdoor blackboard for mark making

If you are worried about your mudkitchen and resources being damaged by the elements, consider placing it under a canopy or a purpose built den. 

If you have the space, creating a seating area closeby to your mud kitchen will allow for greater interactions and roleplay with peers.

natural mud kitchen and seated area
Photo credit - D Wicks, FB group member



What to put in a Mud Kitchen?


Aside from any natural materials you can make use of from your outside area, the following list includes some ideas for resourcing your mud kitchen:

  • stones and pebbles
  • sticks and log slices
  • herbs and spices
  • dried flowers and petals
  • stainless steel and wooden utensils such as spoons, whisks, cutlery etc
  • weighing scales
  • Scoops and measures
  • recipe cards
  • recipe books
  • dried fruit
  • shells
  • thrifted teapots, jugs and other containers
  • bowls and cups
  • mark making materials


How to use a Mud Kitchen?


Using a child-led approach is best when it comes to role play, by placing carefully selected resources in your mud kitchen for children to use, you will then be able to observe and notice language and learning which will help you to plan for and work on their 'next steps' by immersing yourself within their play and introducing key concepts and ideas in a playful yet meaningful way...

Mud Kitchen Activity and lesson plan ideas:


  • Making potions
  • making natural piant
  • Role Playing a Cafe
  • Rock painting play food
  • Developing language through commenting and questioning
  • noticing differences and changes when mixing and making
  • ordering food by size an weight
  • weighing and measuring
  • writing recipes
  • following recipe instructions
  • sequencing recipes
  • making menus
  • Labelling resources
  • learning about one more and one less in relation to ingredients
  • mathematical concepts through time and number counting
  • Addition through finding a total when serving customers
  • counting out when serving customers
  • Halving and doubling
  • Learning about health and safety and self care
  • fine and gross motor skills when using resources and equipment
  • Making homemade playdough


boy pretending to work at mcdonalds in mud kitchen outside
Arthur pretending he was working at McDonalds


Mud Kitchen Learning Outcomes:


Mud Kitchen play will focus on the following Learning Areas:
(obviously other Learning areas will also be appropriate depending on how you extend the activity or use effective questioning)

Characteristics of effective learning:

Finding out and exploring: 

•Showing curiosity about objects, events and people
•Using senses to explore the world around them
•Engaging in open-ended activity
•Showing particular interests


Playing with what they know: 

•Pretending objects are things from their experience
•Representing their experiences in play
•Taking on a role in their play
•Acting out experiences with other people


Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships 

•Interested in others’ play and starting to join in.
•Seeks out others to share experiences.
•Can play in a group, extending and elaborating play ideas, e.g. building up a role-play activity with other children.
• Initiates play, offering cues to peers to join them.
•Keeps play going by responding to what others are saying or doing.
•Demonstrates friendly behaviour, initiating conversations and forming good relationships with peers and familiar adults.

Expressive Arts and Design: Being imaginative

•Engages in imaginative role-play based on own first-hand experiences.
•Builds stories around toys, e.g. farm animals needing rescue from an armchair ‘cliff’.
• Introduces a storyline or narrative into their play.
•Plays alongside other children who are engaged in the same theme.
•Plays cooperatively as part of a group to develop and act out a narrative


Communication and Language: Speaking

•Beginning to use more complex sentences to link thoughts (e.g. using and, because).
•Uses talk in pretending that objects stand for something else in play, e,g, ‘This box is my castle.’
•Uses language to imagine and recreate roles and experiences in play situations.
Introduces a storyline or narrative into their play.


Mathematics: Numbers:

•Uses some language of quantities, such as ‘more’ and ‘a lot’
• In practical activities and discussion, beginning to use the vocabulary involved in adding and subtracting.
solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.


Understanding the world:

•Comments and asks questions about aspects of their familiar world such as the place where they live or the natural world. 
•Can talk about some of the things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects. 


girl holding umberella outside next to a mud kitchen


Would you like to see how we set up our learning inside? My post on our child led playroom here, and this Ikea Flisat desk hack should give you some good ideas for indoor learning. 
Don't forget, all of our tuff tray ideas for open ended play can also be used in the outside area. 

If you would like to know why children in year 1 and key stage 1 should still have access to a mud kitchen and play based learning, have a read of my post - should year 1 children still have continuous provision. 


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Mud kitchen ideas and accessories for outdoor play in the EYFS

11 comments:

  1. As a former early years practitioners, I love everything about this #kcacols@_karendennis

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  2. We love our mudkitchen - made of an old desk and painted/upcycled. B still loves it now at age 6. #KCACOLS

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  3. I can't tell you how popular our holiday farm mud kitchen is, thank you for some lovely new ideas for ours #KCACOLS

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  4. Some great ideas. I will be putting one of these at the bottom of my garden in the Summer when my boy turns 2, hopefully he will love it!

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  5. What a fantastic setup! I can imagine how extraordinarily fun and enriching that must be!
    #KCACOLS

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  6. We have a wooden playhouse with a sink and a blackboard. Hours of fun and imaginative play. #KCACOLS

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  7. This looks great and you have really thought of everything! Some really great ideas for others here! I totally agree this kind of play is so important for kids #kcacols

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  8. What a fabulous kitchen you have! We haven't got space for this, but luckily E plays with one like yours at nursery. #KCACOLS

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  9. Oh wow what an amazing little set you have. My girl loves a mud kitchen but its something that we haven't actually got for our girl. Looks sooo good tho. Thank you for linking up with us for #kcacols we hope you can join us next time..

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  10. I absolutely love a mud kitchen. As you say there are so many benefits. I love seeing my boys creativity when they play in one. #KCACOLS

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  11. Our kids have mud kitchens at school & nursery which they love - unfortunately we don't have a garden so they can't have one at home #KCACOLS

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