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When the ground starts to thaw outside and we get our kids back to normal outdoor play, it may be time to introduce them to nature’s greatest sensory activity – the mud kitchen.

Katie Lear, a licensed counselor and play therapist based in North Carolina, eloquent declares fatherly Why mud kitchens are so great for kids:

Part of it could be because of how a mud kitchen fully engages the senses, Lear says. “Mud play is a fascinating experience that helps children really focus on what is going on with their five senses: the mud can be a cool temperature; it has a distinct feeling; it smells earthy; it makes a big noise. Many mindfulness practices encourage attunement with the senses to stay in the present moment. When you think about the sensory play through this lens, it’s pretty nifty really. “

Illustration for article titled Build a Back Yard

What you need

When creating your own mud kitchen, you can choose as a simple one (some dirt, water, and a bucket) or as a fancy one (like You can buy this actual “mud kitchen”) as you like. But something between these two options is likely spot on. Here are some ideas to get you started:

A flat surface

In order to prepare proper mud meals, children need a surface to sit or stand on to work. If you don’t want to forego that literal mud kitchen that I’m connected to (I don’t blame you) then you may be able to grab a used indoor play kitchen near you that is finding a second life as an outdoor mud kitchen. But really, any flat surface that you don’t mind getting messy on will do, including a sheet of smooth plywood that lies on the floor or on a picnic table.

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Dirt and water

You obviously need the two main ingredients in the mud. So, choose the location of your mud kitchen based on how close it is to the area of ​​your backyard that your kids love to dig. You also need easy access to water. So if you can put them in a spot where they can easily pull the hose over or have access to another source of water, that works best. If this is not possible, add a couple of buckets of water.

Illustration for article titled Build a Back Yard


Children need tools to hold, stir, and serve their mud masterpieces. So pull out any old measuring cups, spoons, plates, and pots or pans that you can donate to the cause. You won’t be picky, so get creative; Even an old frisbee can serve as a plate or cake pan.


I doubt you will want to lug all this dirty stuff with you every time you finish “cooking”. So look for an outdoor storage solution. If you have a real play kitchen, there are likely to be some shelves or cabinets built in. If not, the solution can be as simple as pulling out an old plastic storage container that doubles as a kitchen cabinet tucked away in a shed or on the back porch when not in use.

Also, if you’re concerned about the clutter, you can choose specific mud play clothes or keep some old towels ready to wipe off when the process is complete.

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