My daughter loves Mud, absolutely loves it and I hate it. I hate the mess it makes and the clean up required afterwards, not to mention all the germs that one might get on their hands. That being said, I also understood the duality I was showing by stopping my daughter to play in the mud. Here I was talking all about green living, getting kids closer to nature and connecting our family to natural products and yet could not stand to see my daughter playing with mud.
Ever since I saw Rashmie and Pari’s Mud Pie Kitchen on their blog, I was itching to get one going for Samaira. I kept on delaying it thinking I need to get some cookie cutters, moulds, the proper place to set the kitchen but today I cut those shackles loose and went ahead with setting the mud pie kitchen for my daughter and my niece with whatever I had at hand.
Okay, the best thing about our new house is that I have a patch of land both in the front yard and backyard of our house. We haven’t done much with the garden except getting the grass going and this patch of fresh grass is the first thing I see every morning, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy it makes me.
I decided to set up the kitchen in our backyard with an old rickety table that was lying around. I got some utensils from Sam’s play kitchen and some disposable ones which were lying around. Since we have a vegetable garden being planted right now (Yay!!!) there was plenty of potting soil and mud for the kids to make mud pies with.
I didn’t give any directions to the kids regarding how to play with the kitchen and thought I will just observe how they play. For my daughter who is three years old playing with the mud unabashedly was the most beautiful sensory activities ever. She just couldn’t get enough of squishing, feeling and kneading the mud dough with her hands and fingers.
My niece who is 4.5 years old started with making mud pies and quickly decided that she wanted to make mud cupcakes. Since we don’t have any flowers yet in the garden she thought of decorating the cupcakes with grass. But they were looking quite bland so we thought of using some real food to accessorize the mud cupcakes. So I got some almost finished cornflakes, a little macaroni and these coloured fryums (I think that is what they are called). The kids got so excited to see these toppings and quickly got to decorating their creations.
By this time the kids were having a lot of fun but I was finding it hard to control my urge to direct their play the way I wanted to.
This was such a lesson for me; as an adult, we might want to our kids to do what we deem is appropriate action or the sensible thing to do. But if we want kids to have fun we should just let them be and mean it.
When I left them to their own devices that is when they really got creative. A pizza was being made and a piece of thermocol was being grated as cheese on top of it. Ingenious isn’t it? They even made a pretend oven under the table where they were cooking their pizza. At other ends a cake was being baked with lots of raisins and butter ( more soil). Could I have thought of these things? Probably not!
After the kids were through, the clean up was really easy, I just got a garden hose and gave a thorough cleaning to the whole area. (Bonus I watered the garden too). But don’t let the absence of a garden deter you from letting kids play in a mud pie kitchen, lots of people have set up the mud pie kitchens in balconies, pathways, passage etc.
By the end of it ( a good two hours) even I was thinking of all the ways I could make the mud pie kitchen more fun and interesting for the kids. I want them to enjoy this kitchen with all five senses. The kids want more and I sure want them to have more fun. So I will be tinkering with the kitchen off and on and would definitely share the progress with all of you.
The major takeaways for me as a mom during this beautiful sensory activity was that Kids need to be kids. I can’t keep them in a controlled, sanitized and protected the environment all the time and expect them to become curious, creative and exploratory personalities. Another important lesson was that we parents need structure, things planned out and an infrastructure even when the play is involved but kids certainly don’t need all that. All they need is to be uninhibited, explore and have loads of fun.