When I was a kid, my family lived in a town called Medford Lakes, NJ. We had 5 lakes total and from time to time after a rainstorm they would flood. My best friend and I would walk these mud trails for miles. I remember fresh as day the smell of mud, leaves, and rain. I remember playing and thinking will this mud actually turn to clay? Which it did. Mud Play is natural, it is fun, organic and a wonderful and safe place for our children to play and have FUN!!
This memory was 32 years ago and I remember it clear as day. I am now 42 and I will never forget my memories “mud walking”.
We celebrated Mud Day last week at CMP and what a blast it was. Arianne and Massimo Battazzi built each playground a “Mud Kitchen”, where the children learn to explore and experience using real kitchen utensils, sinks and bowls.
I interviewed our Mud Kitchen expert and CMP teacher Ms. Marisol.
You and your family have a “mud kitchen” at home, what is a “mud kitchen”?
A “mud kitchen” is a designated space for my daughter to make her mud creations. We have incorporated real life kitchen tools and child size pots and pans as well as clippings from nature. It is more than just a mud pit. We built a kitchen from repurposed wood, added a sink, faucet, and burner from an old stovetop. We really wanted to emphasize the real-to- life feel.
How did you and your husband build your mud kitchen?
It really took some weekends of going to thrift shops and estate sales. My hopes were to include stainless steel pots and pans as well as wooden serve ware and trays. We also visited the Re-Store as well as the Industrial Parks in town. At the Re-Store we found an old faucet and a few crates and at the Industrial Park we found a couple of wooden container lids and pallets.
What materials did you use to re-purpose this space?
Our mud kitchen is located under a few small trees in our back yard, where the ground cover is only dirt. We brought in an old picnic table that we found on the curbside for the feast to be served and setup a small tree stump as a prepping table. The kitchen itself we built from the slats taken from the wooden container lids and wood from pallets.
What is your daughter’s favorite thing about her mud kitchen?
My daughter enjoys using the mixing spoons, nutcracker, and mortar. She has leafs, flowers, and herbs available to her and loves to ground them in the mortar and add them to her creations. She also loves the fact that she can make mud. She has a watering can and a teapot that she uses to add water to dirt so she can “cook” it.
Do you have any advice for families that would like to build a mud kitchen in their home?
Yes, it takes time to gather the items that you have envisioned so don’t feel discouraged if you can’t find what you are looking for. I continually add new found treasures to my daughter’s kitchen. Also, make use of what’s already there. Be creative and look into repurposing items that you find on the curbside.
I also interviewed Ms. Viola Swamp, CMP’s Early Childhood Education Expert on the top 5 reasons why mud play is so important for our preschoolers.
- Playing in the mud can make you happier. Scientists have discovered something that children have always known-playing in the mud can lift your mood. Recent studies have revealed that dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae which increases the levels of serotonin in our brains helping to relax, soothe and calm.
- Playing in the mud connects you to nature.
- Playing in the mud can make you healthier. Research has shown that playing in the dirt- including very wet dirt, is good for the child’s immune system.
- Playing in the mud helps develop positive dispositions. Having an area for mud play provides a space for children to retreat for some time alone in a soothing sensory experience or to play with peers, co-operating, communicating, negotiating and sharing.
- Playing in the mud encourages creative thinking. Playing with open- ended materials like mud, stimulates creativity and imagination. Sensory, hands-on play, and feed’s children’s brains.
Try to embrace it and thrust that this will be an amazing experience for your preschooler!
“Every child should have mud pies, grass-hoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade…bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to toll, sand, snakes and hornets; any child who has been deprives of these has been deprived of the best part of…education.”
-American botanist Luther Burbank
If you enjoyed this post we invite you to read our blog, “Taking ‘Playing in Nature’ to the Next Level.”
Carmel Mountain Preschool provides a safe and caring environment with hands-on, developmentally-appropriate programs for children. We also offer excellent care for elementary school-age students with our before and after school programs. CMP is located at 9510 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego, CA 92129, situated between 4S Ranch, Rancho Peñasquitos, Carmel Valley, and Santaluz. For more information, please visit our website or contact us at 858.484.4877.