Designing an Outdoor Mud Pie Kitchen and Restaurant
There are a lot of brilliant activities and craft ideas for kids out there. But even if they look pretty, the reality is many of them just don’t work for us. A lot of times they are too complex, overly detailed or require too many materials for my two year old.
There is one thing that has kept Cora happy and interested for the last four months – making mud pies! Here is why we love this activity:
- It’s inexpensive. The only thing you need to get started are some bowls and spoons.
- We get to be outside, even in the rain.
- Kids of all ages get into it (the boy in the picture below is our 12 year old neighbor, and he recently made an epic, double decker mud cake).
- It encourages sensory play, math and measurement, social skills and plant identification
- It’s creative and different every time!
We’ve made a few tweaks and upgrades to our pie making station recently. Here are some tips and simple additions that have really added to our experience:
I spent eight dollars at the local Goodwill and bought everything from measuring cups and spatulas to mixing bowls, salt & pepper shakers and whisks. Some nylon material (less prone to fading outside) can be used on the front of the stand or for a table cloth in the dining area. We found an old chalkboard at another second hand store for our little sign.
>> You can make your own chalkboard on just about any flat surface using 100% non toxic Lullaby Chalkboard Paint.
Explore in Nature
A great part of this activity happens even before any little fingers touch the mud. The first thing we do is take a couple jars and fill them with all of our ingredients. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to lead and collect things in nature that they are attracted to. I try to encourage them to collect things they’ve never seen before. Though this activity, Cora’s learned to identify things like Juniper berries, Goldenrod, and Curly Doc seeds.
Bring on the Water
Mud Pie making is infinitely better if there is water around. We don’t have a hose that stretches that long, so I fill up a big bucket and bring it over to the play area. This way, the kids always have a ready supply. Trust me, water is the key to getting them totally invested in and consumed in the project.
Keepin it Real
The more authentic it feels, the more the kids get into it. We’re still thinking of a great name for our restaurant, but we do have a little sign. We also have a stash of acorns that people have to use to “pay” for their mud pies. Also, we set up a side area where people can go to “eat” their pies. The sky is the limit with how creative you can be. And remember, it’s all a work in progress – things don’t have to be perfect in order to get started.
We’re always looking for another unique utensil to add to the kitchen. Our latest addition, an ice cream scooper, is a big hit. The menu can change up too. For older kids, it’s fun brainstorming weekly specials that could be written on a bigger chalk board. Also, the ingredients don’t just have to include plants, one of our best sellers is The Worm Wreak (more of a sandwich than a pie really).
So go get on the old clothes, have fun and let loose. I’d love to see all your muddy masterpieces or any more ideas you have. Enjoy and Bon Appetite!
Your Woman Gone Wild,