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:
- Mud Kitchens
- Creativity Stations
- Book Baskets
- Tinker Boxes
- 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 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!
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.
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.)
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.”
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