Are you thinking of adding a mud kitchen to your garden? It’s a smart choice as it’s such a fun, inclusive and exciting piece of play equipment that can be enjoyed any weather, any time of the year.
Whilst you know your child is going to make a lot of wonderful memories playing with their new mud pie kitchen, what you may not know is that it also has some pretty amazing secret benefits too. Not only can this humble piece of play furniture provide hours of fun for your child, but it can actually help support their development.
Let’s take a closer look at things you didn’t know mud kitchens could do for your child’s development:
First Things First: What Are Mud Kitchens?
A mud kitchen is a pretend kitchen that is situated in an outdoor space. It usually has ‘worktops’, storage, vertical space, play ovens and some sort of water storage like a suspended tub. Some people also choose to add growing herbs, tubs, trays, measuring jugs and even play washing machines and extra ‘facilities’ to reflect a domestic space.
Professionally made mud kitchens tend to be made according to the latest safety standards, and are designed to last. They are also commonly available in many different colours and finishes, although plain wooden finishes are the most popular as they suit any outdoor space and design. Some people also choose to make their own mud kitchens out of tables, plastic ‘kitchen’ toys and buckets.
However you choose to add a mud kitchen to your garden, the best thing to do is place it in an area you don’t mind being messy, and that also has easy access to water if possible.
How Do Mud Kitchens Help Your Child’s Development?
Mud kitchens are incredibly fun for children to play with, all whilst they’re making developmental gains without even knowing, and some of those gains include:
Mental Health Benefits
Children who struggle with anxiety disorders have been shown to display reduced social skills. Further clinical studies have shown a connection between mental health difficulties in children and a delay with different types of development.
Mud kitchen time provides a chance for exercise, which naturally causes the body to release endorphins, mud kitchens also allow healthy expression or processing of difficult emotions, escapism, time in nature and more – all of which are helpful for reducing the risk of, or managing mental health struggles experienced by children.
Physical Health Benefits
Obesity statistics relating to children are really scary to see, but there’s lots we can do to ensure they develop at a healthy weight. Mud kitchens help to keep them moving, and encourage them to be active outside.
In addition, their physical development is supported as they squeeze, jump, crouch, carry, touch and push sand, mud, pebbles and other things around, all as they play in the space in various ways.
Both fine and gross motor skills are practised and used with mud kitchen play, especially as the way that play takes place will differ depending on the ‘storyline’ that is occurring during that play session.
Social Skill Development
Kids do gain a lot of social skills at nursery and school, but they also gain a lot at home, and when playing with friends. When sharing a mud kitchen with a caregiver they learn to take instruction, and to role play and collaborate, as they do with their friends. With peers, they will also learn how to be patient and share the space.
Creative & Imaginary Play
Mud kitchens provide an opportunity for messy play, which is highly beneficial when it comes to a child’s development. It is an open-ended exploration of different materials, objects and their properties. It encourages natural curiosity and engagement with the child’s surroundings.
Fine motor skills, creativity, cognitive development and sensory engagement are all part of mud kitchen play aiding your child’s development and all of those areas are used and practised every single play session.
Imaginary play and role playing in the space is also highly important as it helps a child to express themselves, be creative, run through actions and consequences, and develop their social skills.
Maths & English
A child is able to become familiar with Maths and English as they play in a mud kitchen. They will see wording on the kitchen itself, on inbuilt blackboards and on labels.
They will also be learning to use different words and ways of communicating as they role play with you and their friends.
Mathematical concepts like shapes and measuring will also come into play when you’re doing ‘recipes’ and making mud sausages, pies and other things. This all contributes to your child’s cognitive development and their ability to engage with
learning at school and the curriculum as they get older.
For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational’. The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play. – Penelope Leach
Will you enhance your child’s development and fun in the garden by adding a mud kitchen? If you do, consider investing in a safe, durable and well designed professional mud kitchen set. It will last your child day after day, season after season, for many happy memories and learning opportunities as they grow.