Mud kitchens are exciting, messy, creative areas to play. Having them in schools is a pretty new idea but children have been cooking up mud pies in their gardens for decades. The learning potential from mud kitchens is immense due to their creative nature. Participating in role play activities involving cooking are the most obvious types of games children play but the scope of play is immense.
Children experience sensory, emotional and imaginative play as well as developing maths, science and speaking skills. They also benefit from playing outside and interacting with other children. Teachers guide role play by adding equipment that develops specific skills this results in the mud kitchen becoming a science lab or Michelin starred restaurant.
Language skills develop because children talk about what they are making and answer questions about their recipes. Schools usually install mud kitchens in sheltered areas of the playground near a good supply of mud. Early years children enjoy playing in a mud kitchen as part of their learning goals while older children enjoy the kitchen at playtimes.
Play is an incredibly underrated activity and is often mistaken for a pointless activity just for fun. It is fun but is also the source of all of our learning in our primitive years. Young children are experts in play and their imagination is enviable due to its creative powers. All of the greatest inventions are a result of imagination and trying to achieve the impossible. Without play our children lose the ability to think and experiment with their outlandish ideas. Firms requiring innovative minds are encouraging staff to play so they become effective thinkers.
Children learn about life by imitating the people around them. Role play provides the perfect opportunity for children to imagine what is like to be their parents. You get a really good idea of children’s home lives listening to them role play. Cognitive skills such as problem-solving and judging which pot is the biggest are learned through experience. Communication skills improve through speaking and listening. The most important life skills develop through doing them. Sitting in the classroom learning about mud is not as effective or as much fun as playing in a mud kitchen.
Centuries ago people explained how the world worked by telling stories. The Ancient Egyptians thought a scarab beetle pushed the sun across the sky. Philosophers were the original scientists who speculated how our world worked. Magic and gods were responsible for the unexplainable. The world was a mysterious and exciting place when we were first learning about it.
Maths and Science provide explanations for lots of questions and generates many more. Volume and capacity involves measuring liquids and solids to compare quantities and weight. Recipes effectively combine weights, measures and the reaction of different types of mud to water. Children learn how to read the scale on a measuring jug by looking at it. They discover that 250 ml of water and 300 ml of water doesn’t fit into a 500 ml measuring jug.
Children hypothesise about the outcomes of experiments and discuss methods and results with the rest of the class. Teachers guide learning by including the relevant utensils and setting the scene.
We learn to read by speaking and recognising sounds. Children enjoy the sound of their own voice and sharing stories with others. They become better writers when they are confident speakers and readers. Being seen and heard are the most effective way to learn how to communicate.
Telling the class about their experiment helps children to sequence events and makes them better storytellers. They learn about beginnings, middles and ends as well as first, second third and final. The more children recount their experiment the better they get at it and their writing skills improve.
The muddier children are after playing in a mud kitchen, the more they have learnt!
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