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Mud Kitchens and Beyond: 50 ideas for investigative play

In Bookshelf Resources for Practical Activities


Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud! There is nothing quite like it for learning opportunities and a mud kitchen can be a key element of outdoor continuous provision. After all, mud is good for children! It connects them with nature and provides open-ended sensory experiences. This book is designed to give early-years educators some starting points for developing children's interest in a mud kitchen throughout the year. It guides you through creating a mud kitchen and how to ensure that the area is a place where high-quality learning takes place. The 50 innovative and exciting ideas in this book can be used by beginners and those who already have a mud kitchen in place. Grouped into helpful sections including Muddy Bake Off, Seasonal Ideas, Investigations and Explorations, Stories and Rhymes and Magical Mud Kitchen, they can used flexibly to follow the needs and interests of the children. Every activity shows how a supportive adult can teach, model and respond to the children through their play, while emphasising that children sometimes need uninterrupted time to develop their own ideas and to play and explore.


Who wouldn’t want to eat a seafood platter served on shells and eaten outdoors?

Who would still want to eat it if the shells were stuffed full with mud, small flowers and sprinkles of grass?

Well, I might not want to eat it but I would be absolutely thrilled if one of my children served it to me!

This is the kind of play that encourages children to develop curiosity in their environment and stimulates them to engage their senses fully as they look, touch and smell their imaginative creations.

This wonderful book guides practitioners through the practical aspects of ‘mud kitchen’ play teaching them how to resource and set up the mud areas in the first instance and then taking them on a journey of discovery through the endless possibilities of mud play. There is a step by step guide of how to engage children (and other practitioners!) to enable them to realise the possibilities and potential learning involved and even the most reluctant practitioner couldn’t fail to be motivated and excited by some of the great ideas.

What I particularly liked about this book is the way in which each mud kitchen activity is introduced by an adult led ‘provocation’ which gives children the background and some knowledge about what they could do or make in their mud kitchen. There is then the opportunity for open ended learning as the children explore the activity further in their own way. This encouragement for open-ended learning addresses the different ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ allowing your ‘players and explorers’ to get stuck in, your ‘active learners’ to have a framework within which to test out and try their ideas and those who prefer to work ‘creating and thinking critically’ to have a background of knowledge from the adult input to use as they develop their own thoughts and ideas.

I would definitely have this book in my setting. If I was starting a ‘mud kitchen project’ from scratch I would use this book as a week by week guide to building up children’s understanding and skills. The content of the activities is appropriate for the full early years age range with even the youngest children being given the opportunity to develop their fine motor skills as they touch, squeeze and roll the mud. I can imagine myself using this book to demonstrate the benefits of sensory play to parents and I can envisage parents’ evenings encouraging adults to revel in the textures and long-forgotten childhood experiences. Staff would find this an invaluable resource and I think the structure of the activities would benefit their planning and observation in other areas – which can only make their practice better and improve the outcomes for children.

I loved this book, you need it in your setting!

Edited by Rebecca

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