homeschool essentials for nature based homeschool
Homeschool Planning, Nature Study

5 Essentials for Homeschool Enchantment: Mud Kitchens

Just as bees are starting up their springtime dance, April seems to wake something up in us homeschoolers, too. Whether we fly into full planning mode or not, most of us are reflecting on the year gone by and dreaming about the one to come.

As we flit from website to website, or convention to convention, gathering up curriculum materials and supplies–or making wish-lists to ponder during the summer months–we have all the good intentions to make next year the best one yet. We’re going to finally find the math curriculum that works; the book list that will make learning come to life; the science program that clicks with our kids’ learning style (and our teaching style); and the perfect smorgasbord of foreign language, history, and geography to round out all of the corners.

Ah, but what about the essentials of enchantment? What about the little pieces that set the stage for impromptu discovery, interest-led learning, and inspired expression that make homeschooling so magical? While you’re drafting that wish-list for next year, don’t forget to add these 5 essentials for homeschool enchantment:

  1. Mud Kitchens
  2. Creativity Stations
  3. Book Baskets
  4. Tinker Boxes
  5. Room to Run!

Over the next week, I’ll be sharing a featured post each day about one of these five essentials, and why we love incorporating them into our homeschool life. Today, let’s talk mud kitchens!

Homeschool Enchantment Essential No. 1:

Mud Kitchens

homeschool enchantment mud kitchens

Mud kitchens are nothing new. Since the dawn of time, children have made a wonder-mess of mud–creating pies and cakes, painting their arms and legs, pouring, splashing, stomping, and squishing. There are so many benefits to mud-play:

  • Fine motor development
  • Gross motor development
  • Nourishes creativity
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Improves mood (thanks to microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium Vaccae, linked to an increase in serotonin in the brain)
  • Improves immunity (also thanks to microscopic bacteria found in the mud)
  • Connects us to nature
  • Cooperation and problem-solving (when playing in mud with others)
  • Therapeutic effect–mud is very soothing!

homeschool essentials mud kitchen

If you have a yard, you can dedicate a small corner of it to a mud kitchen. If you don’t have your own dirt, worry not–you can make a mud food truck! 😉 This is what we do. As we live in an apartment on the third floor, our mud kitchen is portable. We filled a leftover plastic tub with kitchen toys from IKEA, and keep it in the car. Whenever we find ourselves close to a creek or pond, we bring it with us. When we’re done making a mess, we rinse everything in the creek before putting it back in the car.

homeschool essentials mud kitchens

Our IKEA kitchen toys sat in the closet for a year, basically untouched. The girls never played with them. Ever since we made our “mud food truck,” they’ve become a favorite staple, and have gotten more use in the last two months than in the previous twelve. Mud kitchens don’t have to be fancy–water, dirt, toys for pouring (buckets, pots, or pitchers), toys for “serving” (bowls or pans), and toys for scooping (spoons, forks, or shovels.)

homeschool essentials mud kitchens

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what we did with the IKEA kitchen center that never got any love. 🙂

Do you have any mud kitchen hacks or tips to share? Please add your ideas in the comments!

“I rose from marsh mud
algae, equisetum, willows,
sweet green, noisy
birds and frogs.”

Lorine Niedecker

homeschool essentials mud kitchen

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Mud kitchens are a wonderful addition to a nature-based homeschool, an unschooling household, or any child's backyard! In this post, we dive into why mud kitchens belong on your homeschool wish-list right alongside math curriculum and books.
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2 Comments

  • Reply Jen @ Bookish Family April 26, 2018 at 12:49 am

    I never thought of it as a mud kitchen! But we have always given our kids sturdy dishes and cups from the thrift store, small watering cans, and access to water and the magic happens. For us, the secret ingredient is a water barrel. Even our small yard provides hours of fun when the young ones can endlessly open a tap to fill their buckets, mix their potions, and even water our small vegetable garden, all without running up the water bill!

    Also, while the littlest hands have trouble turning the tap, older siblings enjoy using their superior hand strength and have a strong incentive to make sure the tap gets closed completely . . so there will be plenty of water for mixing with later.

    • Reply Kristina Garner April 26, 2018 at 1:18 am

      That’s pretty brilliant! I’ll have to remember the water barrel when we have a yard again someday. 🙂

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