I tried to put a variety of toys , small tables together to create a Mud Kitchen to be used in our playground but ended up discarding it piece by piece until I finally found toys and materials that lasted and seemed to be the best and most durable ones I have. Choosing the wrong materials or placing toys in the wrong position in the playground or not planning well about the storage of toys and materials the children may need are some factors that may affect the longevity of the use of the mud kitchen. After I created and upgraded our most current mud kitchen ( although improving it is an endless commitment for an educator like me) I thought I must at least share ideas to make a mud kitchen particularly for novice parents or educators or anyone planning to have a mud kitchen in an easier way base on my experiences and ideas.
First idea, find durable water table toys
with wide basins that can be used for washing the toys after playing or to be used as a source of water supply .This water table should be durable enough to withstand the elements since it will be left outside. You must consider protecting all the toys by covering it with tarpaulins if not in use will be great for maintenance.
Second idea, is to find a plastic or wooden table to be used for all those mixing moments using huge or small pots and pans. This will be the children's "laboratory" table where they will experiment using various natural resources and mixing it up with dirt, water, pebbles, flower buds etc.
Third, the right mud kitchen with a sink, cook top and hooks to hang cups, pans , ladles, spatulas and more. This is where the children will be busy pretending to cook or bake.It can also be used as a working table for mixing up their "soup" dish,etc.
The mud kitchen is the main part of the set-up . It can be something that you can make out of old bed side tables or small furnitures like an old TV unit . Creating a mud kitchen may take a lot of effort and planning or you can do a research about making one which is available online like in pinterest. Or to make it easier , I bought a mud kitchen from Kmart for only $79.00 , painted it and screwed metal hooks . And it worked well with enough storage for pans and pots.
Fourth, is a place on the wall where you can hang a row of empty clean flower pots to fill it up with more toys like small plates, pots lids, wooden or plastic spatulas, ladles , plastic small shovels or extra small flower pots the children will use to fill up with their collections of leaves, dirt, flower bud, twigs and more.
Fifth idea , having a small broom to clean up the floor after playing in the mud kitchen and having sponges to clean up the table or toys used after playing. The children likes cleaning up and washing the toys after playing and it may become a routine after playing.
The last idea, that I think is essential when creating a mud kitchen is having a big water container with a tap such as the one from kmart - 23litre $22.00 . Or it can be a collapsible water container 20L which is what I have in our mud kitchen. This water container can be hanged up or placed on a table which can be accessible to all the children. It should be filled with water and with the tap that the children can turn on and off.A bucket under the tap is recommended to not waste the water which can be used to water the plants as well.
Having a mud kitchen in our playground has made playing more interesting to the children at Happy kids Family Day Care in Cammeray. I hope, it'll work for you too. Happy "Mud-Kitchen" play!!