Who didn't enjoy making mud pies as children? Outdoor learning and imaginative role play can be messy, gooey and most of all FUN with really simple materials and low set up costs. So, here are a few ideas to get you started with your own kids this summer. This whole process took no longer than 30 minutes to set up and the kids play with it every day.
Firstly, I would be fibbing if I said this task doesn't involve a bit of heavy lifting! Most normal people like to spend their Sunday afternoons lounging in the sun but I opted for heaving heavy crates and wooden sandboxes across the garden to create a mud pie 'zone'. Keep the kids busy by asking them to collect leaves, flowers and grass clippings from the garden to add to their ingredients list whilst you set up.
Start with the basics; a worktop area (crates or boxes on a flat surface), splashback and utensils display (wood board secured firmly), pots for spoons (plant pots) and oven (old sandbox). The beauty of this project is that you can add extra areas later on - maybe a washing up area, 'cafe' table and chairs, cleaning cupboard etc. You may want to use an electric screwdriver to secure areas that may topple and also to look like an awesome parent in front of any neighbours who may be watching!
Pots, pans, spoons and more! Raid the kitchen for old plastic pots, tubs, spoons, cake pans, saucepans, colanders, measuring jugs and mixing bowls. Choose items that will not break easily or go mouldy. Add in some fun utensils such as a whisk, potato masher or measuring scales. You can find all of these things for a good price in supermarkets and discount shops. Prepare to replace things often and expect to find various spoons thrown across the garden, tangled in your washing and in your next door neighbour’s hedge! Try introducing sensory materials such as herbs for interesting smells, wood bark textures, brightly coloured flowers, pebbles and sand.
Decoration; Armed with a five pack of multicoloured chalks, an old blackboard and our imaginative brain cells set to overload, we began to add in some extra details. This really is the fun part as our mud pie kitchen transformed into a 'pizza cafe'. Crates and boxes come to life with a bit of fun illustration and the kids enjoy making their own mark too. This became a great part of the project to discuss with them their grand plan for the development of the area and the types of materials they needed to start baking!
Materials; By now, we had a working kitchen, pizza cafe business and plenty of chitter chatter and ideas. Luckily 'Dad' had actually mowed the lawn (for once!) so we got to work mixing a magic potion of our collected materials of leaves, flowers, grass and prob some snails with compost and lovely gooey mud. Yum!
Further ideas for play; Consider introducing food such oats, dried beans, cornflour and dry cereals for realistic play. Don't forget to clear away any leftover food stuff at the end of your play.