I had my lovely twin niece and nephew (age 9, nearly 10) over for the day today before they go back to school tomorrow. So I thought I would give them and J some nice, messy old-fashioned fun!! So, whilst G had a nap and L, A and J played inside, I whizzed up a very quick Mud Kitchen. It took me no more than ten minutes and even nine year old A said, ‘Gosh how quick was that?’
Our Mud Kitchen included:
- Compost (from £1 shop)
- A few large plastic spoons
- A bowl each (one was an empty sweetie tub)
- Jug/trays and bowls of water
- Various wooden spoons/spatulas
- Rolling pin
- Left over scoopers from the Cow and Gate baby milk tubs
- Various mixed up craft bits from J’s Art Station (pom poms/ feather/ wooden sticks)
- The painted stones we used in J’s cafe
- Builders tray
- An old tile each to act as their kitchen work surface (in photo above)
I left this completely open-ended and let J and his twin cousins decide what they each wanted to do. They started off quite carefully and tried not to get dirty! This DID NOT last long thank goodness… I wanted them to enjoy themselves and get messy!
The little monkeys kept sending me in to get more water, pastry cutters and various other ‘must haves’ for their concoctions! What a wonderful sight I was greeted by each time I returned though! All busy, all being creative and all learning and developing through play! Even Baby G loved watching the busy work going on!
First up was Mr J (Age 3 and 2 months):
J developed his fine motor skills by using the syringe to add water to his soil…
…and he also used the scoop to transport the water. He showed ever increasing control and coordination and hardly spilt any water. Not the same can be said for the soil transferral!!
As J played, he kept changing what he was making, it was a cake, then a potion, then a dumper truck and back to a cake again. Throughout the making process, he kept adding various ingredients and LOTS of water! All the talk going on was fabulous.
With a little help from A, he finally tipped his cake out of the box and he was delighted with himself! It had taken him a LONG time as you can tell by the amount of spilt soil on the grass!
J then began role playing with his cake and cut slices off offering them round to everyone.
Next we’ll have a look at 9 year old boy L:
As you can see, L took the more ‘scientific’ approach to this activity. The first thing he sent me in for were J’s goggles! Bless him! I am a firm believer that all primary aged children should have access to open-ended play. Too often they are faced with very closed activities that do not give them the opportunity to expand and develop their thinking skills. The twins are going into year 5 tomorrow and they genuinely LOVED playing with this Mud Kitchen today! I feel we expect our children to stop playing like this too soon and it makes me so sad! If it were up to me, there would be Mud Kitchen’s and open-ended play activities in every Primary playground so that, at least, during lunch times and play times they can actually ‘play’ rather than stand around bored!
L made a few things but primarily was in his own world, doing whatever lab experiment he was imagining! It was lovely to watch him so engrossed.
Here is one of the things he made, a face in a tub! He used grass for hair and asked me to photograph it as he was proud of it!
This kind of play, also allows for collaborative play and problem solving! SUCH a crucial and important skills that they will actually NEED in the big wide world one day!
It also gave L the opportunity to work with people in different ways, whether as a peer with his sister above or supporting a younger, more inexperienced child. How could anyone argue, that nine year olds get nothing from open-ended play??
Finally we have 9 year old girl A:
A was definitely in creative baking mode and made LOTS of different cakes. She used the spoons to mix, her hands to knead and various decorations to make lots of different cakes. Again, watching her so engrossed and using her imagination was just lovely. Below was A’s first cake decorated with ‘smarties’ and ‘icing’.
A then made a cake with a face….
She using pastry cutters to make heart shapes on her cakes.
A had worked her mixture so well that it eventually was a beautiful consistency for her imprints and she loved the fact her’s stuck together to well. This then, gave her the confidence to advise her brother L and cousin J how to make their mixture of the same consistency! Another important skills: sharing expertise!
Overall, they ALL had a fabulous time and they even enjoyed tidying up, getting out the hose and washing up the tools in soapy water! They are such fab children and I loved seeing them PLAY! After all, I really think play is the most precious tool in a child’s education!