Stuck for something to do while in isolation?
Do you want to promote engrossed play?
Do you want to foster learning?
Do you want your children to connect with nature instead of the internet?
Or are you a teacher wanting to get your teeth stuck in to something when you return to your learning setting?
I challenge you to work together with your child/ren to plan, create and build a mud kitchen/outside play kitchen in your back yard.
First up, you need to plan where. Talk about this together. Work through reasonings. This needs to be in a space where the ground can get stood on and potential turn to dirt/mud, preferably where near forage and in reach of a hose to maintain tidiness of the space.
Next, the plan. Take a walk around the house together. What have you got at home? Can you reuse and recycle some junk? Perhaps a pallet or 2, some old wood, an old table, some wood crates, buckets, baskets and bowls?
Keep it simple and use what you’ve got!
What resources have you got around the house? Sticks, shells, bark, stones. Chuck in an old pot, pan, bowl, plastics, muffin trays, jugs and kitchen utensils.
Do some gardening to add to the space. Plant some herbs, grass and pansies in small pots or old crockery.
Have you got some large rocks or log stumps/rounds? These make good seats.
Cable reels make great tables, tyres, planks of wood or recycle an old table.
There doesn’t need to be water running to it, but if there is a nearby outside tap you could establish expectations early – fill only as needed and turn tap off or tap stays at drippings with bowl underneath. Discuss where you want children to ‘clean’ selves when play is finished.
Creating a play space outside where children can play freely and use their imagination holds great learning benefits.
In this space, children can create, explore, imagine and discover. Children with explore language as they role play. They will invite you in to their play, offering tasty treats and you can gratefully accept, joining their play.
Preparing the play space in the kitchen, cleaning up during or after the play all teaches aspects of managing self.
There are also great sensory benefits when working with and playing in nature. All senses are fuelled within this space – touch, sound, sight, taste and smell. The children will also be soaking up the healing properties in nature.
As the child/ren mix dirt with water, watch a worm dig or plant herbs and nurture them to grow, they explore science and nature concepts.
As they work creating tasty morsels, filling containers, counting how many treats needed, sorting and working with order, children explore early mathematical learning.
Place a clipboard and pencil nearby and I’m sure they will make use of this somehow too. A great extension for early literacy – they might write recipes menus or orders.If you have concrete nearby, chalk is a great resource.
This space will allow the child/ren to become deeply engrossed in their play, thus making the learning more meaningful.
This space is a working space and can be continuously added to and beautified. Allow the child/ren to take ownership of this space. Allow them to imagine, create and play out their ideas. Let them take the lead in their learning. Let them own this space. Children will play in such a space for years to come.
Kia ora and hello,
My name is Nickie and I am a passionate, heart centered and intentional early years teacher, leader and mentor. Dedicated to personal and professional growth, it is empowerment, kindness and connection which guide my practice.
With 18+ years experience, working in Early Childhood Education centres in New Zealand and Australia, I have a passion to share, motivate and inspire teachers and parents, with my practical knowledge and experience in teaching, leading and mentoring.
I invite you to open your mind and heart to new ideas and ways of teaching and leading to empower. I hope you find something in my blog that inspires and motivates you to be the best person, teacher and/or parent you can be.
Nga mihi nui,