Mud Kitchens are one of the essential summer backyard toys.
Best part is that you can make DIY mud kitchen easily with tools and materials you already have!
Toddlers, preschoolers and even bigger kids love cooking with mud. It’s a great way to foster informal learning in the outdoor environment. Playing with mud kitchens also allow children to have a hands-on experience with nature, get messy in an engaging sensory experience and spend a LOT of time outside!
In fact, you can save a lot of money by creating it yourself. Although it may seem like a difficult task, there are many simple options such as making mud kitchen from pallets or upcycling old furniture and customizing it depending on the space you have available and your unique needs.
What Is a Mud Kitchen?
A mud kitchen is a play kitchen designed to be used outdoors. It’s main purpose, hence the name, it to play with mud, cook with mud and get messy with all natural materials outdoors.
For this reason the best mud kitchen is a DIY Mud Kitchen! 😀 Because when you build it from recycled materials you don’t have to worry about it getting dirty, wet and remain outside for the whole summer long.
Like with indoor kitchnen mud kitchen also utilises cooking utensils, other real-life utensils with nature as the main ingredient to create an enjoyable kitchen environment for the children and foster their imagination.
What Age Are Mud Kitchens For?
Mud kitchen can be introduced as soon as your little one starts to walk confidently, which is usually around 18 months.
Mud kitchen are fantastic for outdoor play but I’d probably wait till they’re about 2 years old for two reasons:
- At around 2 year old toddlers really start to get into and enjoy imaginative play.
- At this age they are also tall enough to get to the standard mud kitchen heights. If you build it earlier you might want to think how you can modify it as your little one gets taller.
With a few little adjustment along the way, DIY mud kitchen will last you for many years and with multiple children if you have a large family.
There are countless benefits for their learning and development, and it can also be an excellent means of reducing screen time.
What are the Benefits of Playing With a Mud Kitchen?
Mud kitchens have a range of educational benefits. Some of the key points are listed below, but the list is endless:
- Social and Emotional skills– Mud kitchens foster skills such as sharing, role-playing, turn-taking, conflict resolution, respect, and empathy, promoting children’s social awareness and improving their emotional development.
- Encourages language development and communication– children can share their thoughts when given the right environment. It is also a great way to teach specific vocabulary related to kitchen utensils, cooking, cafes and much more.
- Physical Development– children are physically challenged as they need to use gross motor skills for tasks such as lifting heavy bowls, collecting mud etc. Additionally, they use their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination for more straightforward tasks such as whisking, stirring, holding spoons etc.
- Engage in STEM learning– children informally learn mathematical vocabulary e.g. half, full, empty, and other extra concepts in play such as counting and addition which can be involved in the mud kitchen. Scientific concepts are also embedded in the play as children are learning about the world and experimenting with the properties of nature which opens up new possibilities and experiences
- Fosters imagination– the possibility to get creative is endless. It can be a whole new world for children to engage in role-play and use their imagination to explore and investigate.
How To Make Your Own DIY Mud Kitchen?
There is no specific way a mud kitchen has to be built. They come in all different shapes and sizes. You don’t even need to go out and buy expensive new materials.
Instead, you can design and create your own mud kitchen with tools and materials you most likely already have.
It can also make a wonderful weekend project for your family to work together!
If you’re not sure where to start, a mud kitchen is typically made up of numerous components such as wood, sink, dirt box and kitchen utensils. You can add other supplementary items such as a chalkboard, stove, oven and shelves to enhance your child’s play.
The best part about building the mud kitchen yourself is you can cater to your children’s interests and needs. You can make it child-centered by allowing children to share their ideas on where or how they want specific things to be placed.
Here is a compilation of amazing DIY Mud Kitchens that will inspire and help you build your own.
12 Mud Kitchens That Inspire
Materials needed: Large plastic storage container, wood planks or piece of old furniture
Tools: Nails, screws, hooks
If you don’t have the time and budget, this is one of the simplest forms of a mud kitchen that offers ample fun for your little one. You just simply need to screw the wood in place to surround the plastic container. Also, the bottom shelf works as storage to ensure the mud kitchen doesn’t look cluttered. You can add hooks for the children to hang pots, pans, spoons and buckets to make it look more elegant.
Materials needed: Styrofoam boxes, plastic tubs, thick cardboard boxes, milk bottle caps.
Tools: PVA Glue
Another budget-friendly and hassle-free example of a mud kitchen that you can easily set up in your home. Sometimes it’s not only about the materials, but also the experience which is of more value. Everyday items can be collected and put together in this manner so children can have an authentic experience and you will see their imagination run wild!
An advantage of having a mud kitchen with different materials that aren’t permanently fixed like this one, is that it can be easily reset and adjusted according to children’s interests.
Materials Needed: Old dresser drawer, pallet wood, wood screws, old plastic or metal mixing bowl (for sink), old CD’s, Handles/ knobs, coat hooks.
Tools: Combi drill, drill bit, caulking gun, jigsaw, black spray paint or black paint and an impact driver (optional)
This mud kitchen will make a great weekend project that can be completed within a few hours. The idea of an upcycled drawer turned into a mud kitchen is highly appealing and makes it multifunctional for children to use. It’s a fairly simple design and will fit into any size backyard. To personalise the kitchen, you can add bunting and your child’s name with wooden letters.
Materials needed: Table/wooden planks and lots of bricks
A straightforward yet innovative take on a diy mud kitchen. If you have a lot of unused grass area, you can consider digging it up to make a mud kitchen for your child. You can place bricks around the area as an edging. If you want to make it more versatile, you can draw white lines on the bricks so children can use it as a road for their cars.
In the middle of the mud kitchen, simply just set up a table depending on your child’s needs. Add hooks to the wall/fence so your child can easily hang utensils. You can even involve the little ones to help you decorate!
Materials Needed: Cheap Pine Wood (2×4’s),
Tools: Outdoor Paint, nails, wooden disks, saw, metal round disks, screws and storage baskets.
An elegant example of a mud kitchen that isn’t too stressful to put together. The storage at the bottom of the kitchen ensures the backyard won’t be left a total mess. Children will love cooking, baking, investigating and exploring in their own little space! Make sure you use a coat of outdoor paint for the exterior to ensure the kitchen will withstand all types of weather.
Materials Needed: Wooden Planks, Steel Rod, Shelf bracket, hanging hooks, chalkboard (optional), picnic table (optional), non-toxic wood sealer.
Tools: Screwdriver, nails, saw
If you have space, creating a nice cosy corner for a mud kitchen can keep your children entertained for hours. The best part about this mud kitchen is having a mud patch on the side so children can have easy access to dirt and water. You can even turn a small part of it into a gardening patch for children to grow plants. There are so many scientific investigations that can take place if we create learning spaces for them to learn about the world.
Materials: Pallets (3), washing up bowl, chalkboard (optional), plants (optional)
Tools: 10 cm screws, sandpaper or sander, exterior paint, screw hooks
The best part about this mud kitchen is that it is at a low level for young toddlers to explore. As your child grows, you can add planks to elevate the space according to your child’s age. This is a very minimalistic design but will look highly elegant. Your child is bound to love this outdoor mud kitchen as it fosters their sensory capabilities.
Materials: Hooks, Sink, storage shelf, different sized wood (specifications mentioned), cedar fence pickets, faucet.
Tools: Tape measure, speed square, pencil, safety goggles, drill, jigsaw, Sander, Drill bit set, screws, wood glue
Having a working sink can be the ultimate addition to your mud kitchen. The kitchen becomes much more versatile as children can use their imagination to explore different roles and make meaning. This kitchen has a tough and sturdy build, so it will last your children for years to come.
Materials: Recycled Pallets, old timber, brass handles, brass hooks, tins
Tools: Exterior Varnish, screws, nails etc.
Allocating an actual space and creating this mud kitchen for children to investigate will let their imagination run free.There are so many different elements that children will be engaged in different role playing and social interactions. The best part is you’ll hardly spend money on this project if you use recycled materials. As mentioned, be sure to check Facebook marketplace or gumtree for wood, crates and antique kitchen pieces that can be upcycled.
Materials: hooks, 7 x 4.8m 70×35 H3 treated pine structural, 20 x 3.6m 90×22 H3 treated pine decking, stainless steel bowls (2).
Tools: 1L natural water based decking oil, 50mm treated pine screws (200)
If you have multiple children, then this spacious outdoor will be perfect for everyone to play together but also not get into each other’s way. Perfect for all ages, there is plenty to do in this kitchen so children will be busy for long periods of time! The generous amount of storage below the structure will ensure that the environment doesn’t get too cluttered.
Materials: 2×4 wood (15), 2.6 wood (1), sink, treadwheel 3/8 pieces for stove, recycled jars, label maker
Tools: 2.5-inch screws, acrylic paint, black and white spray paint,
Children will love to explore their creativity in a stylish yet neat mud kitchen that is so well organized. It consists of all the essentials your children need to be able to role play and come up with innovative dishes in their mud kitchen. Look out for decorative kitchen pieces on market place or craigslist to save some money!
Materials and Tools: An in-depth list with instructions is provided on the website.
This one is a more luxurious take on a DIY mud kitchen with a perfect finishing, it’s almost too good to believe! It is an extremely cosy space, and the “L” shape counter paired with chairs is designed for children to engage in a cafe style role play where they can serve customers. Although there are many more steps and tools involved, this mud kitchen is sure to last your children for many years to come!
Therefore, there are numerous ways in which you can put together a DIY mud kitchen for your child that won’t be too expensive.
Most of them can turn into a fun family weekend project where you can design the mud kitchen based on the children’s current interests.
Keep an eye out for any materials you can recycle or upcycle as this will help save some extra money.