Outdoor Concoctions Kitchen

In honour of International Mud Day this week, I finally got around to setting up a simple, open-ended messy play area in the garden. It is a place where the girls can explore, create, investigate, imagine, mix and concoct using the materials around them and generally have some good, old-fashioned, messy FUN!
I found an old Ikea organiser and popped it on its side in an empty flower bed. We collected some flower pots, old pots and pans, paintbrushes, spoons, potato masher, bread board, muffin tin, milk jugs and trowels and added them to the area, ready for lots of investigating to begin!
We gathered up some grass cuttings , sand from our sand box and other foliage from around the garden, and added them as ingredients in the various pots.
C helped me pick some fresh rosemary, parsley and mint from our herb garden and added those to some little pots for some extra sensory play.

 And of course, the addition of lots of water was the best part of all! The soil became a glorious mud pit, easy to dig in and search through for treasures! Lots of worms came to the surface (the birds thanked us later!) and C was fascinated by them, and also by the roots of some plants that she dug up!

Pop chose to sit in it and get stuck right in. That’s my girl!
The next day we added another old unit and put an unused washing up bowl on top, full of soapy water. Lots of “mixes” were then created, with herbs, grass and mud being “washed clean” copious times!
Pop practised lots of spooning, transferring, mixing and tipping.

 C made and then served up our delicious dinner!

 Mud, grass, herb, water, soap, sand soup anyone?!

 They have spent a good length of time over the past few days playing in this area outside. It is not as beautiful as many mud-pie kitchens I have seen around (there are some spectacular examples!) but it will be a place that can change and be adapted in a very open-ended way.

Other ideas for ingredients for them to experiment with are: cornflour, sugar, vinegar, food colouring, salt, bicarbonate of soda, flour, rice, pasta, lentils, porridge oats and beans.

Possible questions to ask as they play:
  • what does that smell/ look/ feel like? what do you think it is?
  • what is the soil like before we add water? describe it
  • what do you think will happen when we add water? try it!
  • what does it feel and look like now? can you splash in it like a puddle?
  • what can you make with wet mud? can you make anything stick together with dry mud?
  • what can you make with X ingredients? 

Learning Links:

  • sensory: exploring materials with hands and feet/ smell/ texture
  • literacy: developing vocabulary to describe new experiences and feelings/ incorporating stories and poems into whole body play/ imagining and creating storylines in role-play
  • maths: counting out objects and spoonfuls/ experimenting with capacity by filling and emptying/ arranging and sorting objects by size, colour, shape, material
  • creativity: using imagination to create stories and role-play
  • phse: playing independently/ working co-operatively/ maintaining concentration and sustained involvement in play/ decision making
  • science: investigative thinking skills/ what if? questioning/ exploring materials/ observing change of materials from dry to wet
Be inspired:
Cakie: 33 months
Pop: 15 months


  1. says

    Can I come and play with that kitchen, the lovely mud and all these beautiful ingredients??
    That is just FANTASTIC!!

    Tineke x

  2. says

    Ah, I love repurposed furniture, and this one makes for the perfect mud concoctions kitchen. Seeing your littlest one fully engaged in the kitchen makes a great example for parents who aren’t sure how well their toddlers will engage with this activity. I love it!!

  3. says

    what a wonderful idea! my son LOVES dirt and mud… i think this might be perfect for him! i’m thinking of doing a post on mud and dirt play… and how valuable it is… i’d love to include your post!