Natural ingredients with Coloured Water in the Mud Kitchen

Our Mud Kitchen is honestly the best and most used kids play thing in our house, no toy compares. If you're considering making a mud kitchen for your children or a preschool, don't feel as if it will be limited to Mud only and messy play, there are so many ways to play in an "Outdoor Kitchen".
Sometimes Dimples asks to go play in the Mud Kitchen but I don't feel like cleaning up muddy clothes so instead of allowing him to get really messy I give him some containers filled with coloured water (tap water and a drop of food colouring) & we go on a hunt for natural cooking ingredients.

This is just as fun as making mud pies but without the mess. Miss Cherub enjoys tinkering in the coloured water just as much as Dimples enjoys making rose tea and Sweet gum nut soup.
In the past we have done some pretty messy Mud play in this Outdoor Kitchen; A Mud Rally Box full of cars and diggers,   Process Painting with Mud & Making a Mud Brick House. If you missed it I have also done a Post on Eight Benefits of Playing in the Mud, however the coloured water was a nice change.

Before making some colourful concoctions, Dimples and I fill up his orange buckets from the Renovated Mud Kitchen with Natural ingredients. Gumnuts, flowers, seeds, twigs, flower buds, and little bits and pieces found in the yard in preparation for his cooking session. Then he creates some beautiful concoctions, mixing together the colours and 'cooking' them, or boiling the water first then adding natural ingredients to stir through.

This type of play is so fresh and calming, Dimples and Miss Cherub could do this for hours. Actually, come to think of it they play happily together for a long time which doesn't occur to this extent in any other play space.  There is something very tranquil about enjoying the sunlight coming through the trees on to the outdoor mud kitchen while the two kiddies play silently together with beautiful flowers and colourful water. They  look so at peace in the world; nothing else matters. 

Dimples & Miss Cherub explore the outdoor environment, search for natural ingredients, experiment with mixing colours, use great imaginations to create and cook up a serve, they role play as they cook and serve me fabulous looking dishes, they are also getting the social advantages of turn taking, sharing, cooperating and playing together. They are also getting hands on experience as they stir, pour, sift, transfer, mix, lift, empty and measure out the water and ingredients.


Learning concepts:
Benefits of being outdoors
Exploring Nature
Mixing Colours
Gross Motor - They're always moving as they lift, pour, mix, transfer, measure, stir etc.
Role Playing real life
Imaginative Play
Social Skills - cooperation, sharing, turn taking, collaborating, working together & helping one another.

Happy Adventures 

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Egg Sounds : A Listening & Critical thinking Game

Listening doesn't come naturally to Dimples. It really is something we need to work on. 
I guess there is so much going on and so many things to do that stopping to listen to boring ol' mum just isn't a priority of his and with a stubborn streak, parenting this strong willed little man can sometimes feel like a challenge. 

By being proactive in the way we speak to Dimples, getting on his level, touching his arm to get his attention and eye contact first and by praising the times he does listen we are aiming to improve this. Another way we have been trying to address it is through listening games.  Childhood 101 has 5 listening games that we have been playing lately and this new one I came up with, Eggy Sounds. 

All you need is a plastic egg, we used an old pavlova shell and some small objects made from different materials, different shapes and sizes and weights. Depending on your childs skill level you can add more or less varying the complexity of the objects used.  

First I laid them all out on a tray so Dimples could see what was there. I then put the tray up high and asked him what sounds he thought they would make. Starting with the obvious, what sound would the bells make?
This part of the game gives a heads up as to what sounds they should be listening for and acts as a memory match, meaning they have to recall what objects were on the tray that could match the sound and rule out the objects they've already guessed correctly.  

I placed an object or group of objects into the egg and asked Dimples what sound is it? He shook it and moved it about listening carefully, some things such as the bell and the pebbles he guessed straight away, then others were a little bit trickier. This is where the critical thinking came into play, I asked him questions to encourage him to think outside the egg!

What type of material does it sound like? does it sound as if there are one or more things inside? is it heavy? 
Then if he couldnt guess it I asked him to listen carefully, shake it slow, then fast, then rotate it, after he did that he was allowed to ask me questions. Is it one thing? Is it plastic? I would then ask him to think about what else was on the tray that might make the same sound as ____ or what else was the same material. 
This encourages problem solving by elimination and critical thinking as well as drawing on scientific concepts to solve the problem, all the while listening carefully. 

Learning concepts:
Listening skills
Memory - visual recall
Critical thinking & problem solving
Questioning & elimination
Scientific concepts - materials, gravity, how things move, weight and sound
Linking auditory and visuals to enhance focus 

Happy Adventures 

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