Last spring I knew I wanted to add some type of mud play area to our yard. My boys had started exploring with making mud on their own and I wanted to encourage that play to continue and develop.
There are so many benefits to mud play so we welcomed the mess that would surely came along with it.
As I considered our space, our children and my intentions and goals for adding mud play into our lives, I decided against the increasingly popular ‘mud kitchen.’
I opted instead for a ‘mud pit.’ A clear space for entirely open ended play and exploration.
I wanted the boys to be able to make mud pies and dandelion soup but also to drive their trucks in the mud and set up construction sites and use all of their creativity and imagination.
I personally felt like the mud kitchen set up was too limiting and also a bit unrealistic for us. Don’t get me wrong, I see some really beautiful mud kitchens featured on Pinterest and Instagram, and often they make me want to dig in and play, myself. But, I knew that at our house, that the pots and pans would end up on the ground and they would want to spread out and have a big space. (This exact thing happened when we tried to keep train tracks on a train table.)
So, a mud pit it was.
Once I added a mirror (that I picked up from the side of the road) and some fencing to define the space, our mud pit was complete.
And, also, while it adds to the messy factor by about a thousand percent, I like that they get to sit in it, squish their toes in it and have freedom to explore.
For us, this set up has worked well.
The mud pit was a huge hit last summer and early this spring the boys, and our neighbors, were excited to get back at it. So excited, that they spent the better part of a day in April raking all the leaves and cleaning out the entire area, all on their own.
We made a few adjustments this year, making the space a little bigger, adding milk crates to organize pots and pans.
In addition to traditional kitchen ware, I added loose parts like bricks and rocks, shells, sticks and other natural materials. Their metal dump trucks were placed nearby and the sit on digger has been dragged over for construction work.
So far this year, they have made their mud muffins and soups, dug pools for worms, built castles, made ‘poo pies’ (don’t ask), done finger painting on the mirror and made tracks with their trucks. I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the coming months.
I wanted to share our experience for those families or schools that want to incorporate mud play into their children’s lives but don’t think that a mud kitchen is the right fit for them. An open space with dirt, a few pots or buckets, maybe some spoons or shovels and water is all you need to experience the sensory rich exploration of mud play.