The families at our first Mud Kitchen (for children aged 5 and under) in April had fun playing at making mud pies and other tasty treats which included a birthday cake, with twigs for candles, and a mud pizza with extra grass topping.
If you’ve never been to a mud kitchen before you might not know what to expect. There are only two essential ingredients: earth and water, everything else you can improvise.
A mud kitchen can be set up in any outdoor space, with old pots and pans or plastic containers; small tables or even old milk crates to use as mixing stations and access to some water. Don’t worry if you don’t have an outside tap, we used a rainwater butt which we filled with water and had more than enough for over 30 families.
Having fun playing with earth and water is probably one of most people’s earliest childhood memories. That’s not always the case for children today so we thought we’d bring back some messy fun for families in the Horniman Gardens; with the added bonus for grown-ups that they didn’t have to clean up afterwards (thanks to our great volunteers).
The children had fun pretending to cook their mud pies in our makeshift oven, experimenting with measuring and mixing as well as practising their pouring skills. The adults had an important part to play too, advising their little chefs on which decorations to use on their creations – beautiful daisies and dandelions growing in the grass - rather than our Gardeners’ prized flowers.
Families were able to drop into the mud kitchen anytime between 11.00 am and 12.30 pm on the Friday morning. Some stayed for a short time to make one or two ‘cakes’ before heading off to enjoy some non-pretend food at our cafe. Others were so engrossed in creating their masterpieces,that they stayed for the whole session. It was great to see everyone, both adults and children, having so much fun outdoors and getting closer to nature.
If you want to join in the fun, and encourage your children to explore nature and enjoy playing outdoors then come along to one of our Mud Kitchens over the next few months. They will be running monthly from May – July, check the website for further details, but be prepared to get messy!