If you know me, you know I love mud! So, why am I against mud kitchens? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time with Nature Explore, it’s the value of loose parts and open-ended materials.
Think back to the last time you witnessed a child in a natural environment. What happened when they picked up a stick or rock, a shell or a leaf? I am willing to bet it nearly instantly became something else – a dish, a weapon, a cell phone even – whatever that child needed and wanted to explore in that moment. And perhaps seconds, minutes or hours later, it became something else.
So what’s wrong with mud kitchens? Aren’t they full of loose parts and open-ended opportunities? Think again! As soon as we call something a ‘kitchen’ that’s exactly what children will see! And this will limit the scope of their play, their opportunity for empowerment.
Instead, try providing a simple, less defined workspace. Add loose parts, whether natural or scrounged from kitchen and workshop, but don’t define them. Then observe. One day, it will be a mud kitchen. And when the children need something else, it will easily transform.