We were cleaning up our art station when we came across a photo of our Emma using the mud kitchen from our previous house and my 3yo said, "I want to go there". Oh, the magic of mud kitchen will be missed where both our children have experienced days working on one either at the child care or at home. It's a no-brainer to set up this outdoor space and if you need help on how to start one, let's kick it up with the essentials.
1 / Counter space
From big backyards to balcony apartments, you'll need to layout where you'd put some counter space for 3 main things: the stove area, the prep area, and the sink. If you don't have the budget for a specific outdoor kitchenette, there are tons of hacks out there where you can convert an Ikea or Kmart outdoor bench to an outdoor kitchen. What we did was save a Kmart bedside table from the landfill and hack a planter shelf from Kmart. Make sure that the height is easy for your child to chop away or reach out on the wall shelves.
2 / Wall Shelves and Inner Cabinets
Ideally, the wall is a place where you can hang shelves, hooks, and writing boards. You can put potted plants, condiment bottles, and stacking small bowls on the shelves. You can hang cooking utensils, pots and pans, and other decors like hanging plants and insect hotels. You can either put up a writing board that says "Emma's Cafe" or "Today's Special: Lamb Risoni with a dash of lemon". The inner cabinets are optional but usually, the counter space will have that under the sink cabinet where you can stack larger, pots and pans or an oven, washer, or dryer.
3 / Mud Kitchen Materials
While plastic utensils, pots, and pans are less expensive than the real ones, I do urge you to look at your used items at home that are nearing their end life. Old wooden spatula and rolling pin, vintage pots and pans, rattan baskets, or metal oven and muffin trays make the play "real". We went to the nearby dollar store and o.p. shop (non-profit pop-ups) and grabbed a couple of measuring scale, a basin for the sink, and tongs while we raided our kitchen for an old hand mixer, beverage dispenser, and used seasoning bottles (it's probably a good idea if your child has an anti-tetanus just in case).
4 / Basic Food Supplies
Most importantly, what is a mud kitchen without its food supplies? This is where the alchemy happens, the cuisine extraordinaire, the fine artisans.. you'll need to stock up on some or mix the materials for novelty and experience. As the name implies, you'll need mud or access to soil on the ground. If that's not your thing, you can always get that fine sand from the sandpit (your hardware store might sell it for a few kilos). You'll also need water and if your child isn't eating everything, some bubbles will be fun. We filled the water dispenser with water so that we don't need to hook it with the plumbing then the detachable basin catches it so we can return it back to the dispenser.
5 / Pump it Up!
Increase your mud kitchen A-game with a variety of food supplies. We foraged some nature items from the park such as dry leaves, fallen seeds, twigs, and special rocks. We also took a few shells from the beach but mostly got a set from the dollar store, too. Fruits and vegetables that are nearing their end date and sure-fire won't be used in the next day or two, just cut those lemons so that your child can practice some squeezing techniques (no open wounds here please).
6 / Put on the aprons~!
Mud kitchens are even fun-ner when your gear is on point. Gumboots when it's really muddy, waterproof child-size aprons, gardening gloves, science goggles, or any linen to hype up their play. Even if your children dislike hats but you offer a chef's hat or a native hat great for a barbeque afternoon, you'll see that your children dress it up.
Note: the photos in this blog are a great source of inspiration only because they are made by professionals. This is not a sponsored article but if you'd like to know more, visit their website at: https://www.castleandcubby.com.au/
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