Mud Kitchens at Barrow Street

This week we introduced real kitchen objects to the rooftop playground here at Barrow Street. Children explored the materials in a variety of ways, baking cookies, stirring cake batter, hosting picnics, running restaurants, creating bands with innovative instruments and on and on and on!

 

 

These materials enhance the dramatic play scenarios that are such a natural part of rooftop play. They are open-ended by nature – although a pot is used to cook pasta, it can also become a drum, a hat, or something else that we haven’t even thought of yet!

 

As time progresses, we wonder if the children will start to incorporate the soil into their play with the kitchen objects. If they do, we will have a fully operational “mud kitchen” right on our very own rooftop!

 

 

Mud kitchens are very popular in early childhood, fostering a connection to natural elements, the excitement of sensory exploration, and the joy of dramatic play.

                                        

Check out this excerpt from an interview with educator Jan White*:

British author and early childhood education expert Jan White was in the U.S. this week taking part in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference in Washington DC. We caught up with her at the conference, and she shared one of her favorite techniques for connecting young children to nature: making mud kitchens. These educational spaces are messy, for sure, but White argues that all the mess is worthwhile when you consider the benefits they create for children. 

When children make believe in a mud kitchen, they're not just getting to practice "grown-up" jobs like cooking on their own (helping them feel more control, power, and independence), but they're also developing early skills in science and art, using their imaginations to test out ideas through observing cause-and-effect. The mud kitchen can be used differently every time children enter, depending on their mood and interests each day, making it a great value as a low-cost play area that children can use and reuse. 

*2013, November 22. Bright Ideas: Making Mud Kitchens. NaturalStart.org. Retrieved December 5, 2013 from http://naturalstart.org/bright-ideas/making-mud-kitchens.

 

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