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Developing areas for outdoor play

Updated: Apr 25

Lots of people ask me how they can develop their outside garden or yard to enable children to be outside more, playing and engaging with nature. I have so many ideas, but I don't want to cause overwhelm so I would start small, make a few changes and see what they like and engage with and build from there.

The first area to consider is to develop a mud kitchen area. At Wild Things this has to be one of the children's favourite areas - they love to mix, create, 'taste' and share their creations. All ages love playing here.

two young girls playing in a mud kitchen
Children playing in the mud kitchen

Benefits of a mud kitchen

Here is a summary of the benefits of mud kitchens, they offer:

·        Sensory experience

·        Creativity and Imagination

·        Outdoor Play and Connection with Nature

·        Physical Development

·        Problem-Solving Skills

·        Social Skills and Cooperation

·        Environmental Awareness

·        Language and Communication Skills

Buy one vs make one?

Don't feel like you need to go and buy a fancy one, look at mine - they are made from pallets and metal brackets and are well loved!

You can also make one out of logs or crates and a plank of wood like a scaffolding board.

Babies, from sitting can enjoy a mud kitchen too - this is simply a plank of wood with some pots and containers with spoons.

cups and bowls set out for babies to play with
mud kitchen for babies

Advice - if using pallets

Safe pallets will carry the DB, KD, EPAL or HT markings, meaning that they haven’t been treated with dangerous chemicals. Pallets marked with the letters DB have not been treated at all, while EPAL, KD and HY markings mean that the wooden pallets have been kiln- or heat-treated rather than being treated using toxic chemicals.

safe pallet markings
example of markings on a pallet


Have a rummage in your cupboards for old pans, spoons, ice cubes trays, silicone cupcakes to add to the mud kitchen. Visit charity shops & car boot sales too for accessories.

shows type of items you can put in a mud kitchen
mud kitchen in action

I highly recommend a water container for the children to access water. Squeezy bottles and adding colouring to the water is also a favourite.

water container and squeezy bottle for children to use in a mud kitchen
water storage ideas

Optional extras - we have an old kettle & microwave which the children love! Oh and marmite jars - random but well used! But you can add things gradually.

children playing in a mud kitchen
optional extras - kettle & microwave

Add seasonal items to the mud kitchen to keep it fresh & exciting - here are some ideas...

Personally, I'm very mindful of waste and the environmental impact buying resources can have so I tend to use herbs, flowers, citrus fruit that are past their best, rather than buying new items.

examples of things to add to a mud kitchen
Seasonal items to add to a mud kitchen

I hope this has given you some ideas to try - I'd love to see you set ups - please share your photos in the comments section below. If anyone has any questions again use the comments box.

If you would like more ideas like this then why not join my NEW Facebook group - Stay Wild - where you can get free forest school inspired activity ideas.

If you found this useful let me know, and I can share further ideas in future blog!

Stay Wild



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