Written by Jan White and published by Muddy Faces, Making a Mud Kitchen offers 32 pages of gorgeous photos and inspiring ideas.
The first page states, "This leaflet is dedicated to all the children who have shown us the deep pleasures of mud play, and to all those practitioners who push the boundaries to enable young children access to the outdoors in an elemental and meaningful way."
The book includes sections on the role of the adult, safety and hygiene, practical suggestions of how to physically set up a mud kitchen, and – most significantly – the pedagogical underpinnings of mud play:
"Making connections through discovering and investigating cause and effect is the stuff of brain development and scientific process. Curiosity, fascination and the pleasure of finding things out are fundamentally important to the human state - being human. An even more powerful level of experience for the explorer is that they are the one making things happen – giving feelings of control and power, and over time, building a child who has a strong inner sense of agency (which itself is key to well-being and mental health). The processes of making "concoctions" brings the worlds of science and art completely together through possibility thinking. The growth of imagination and creativity happens through building on concrete cause-and-effect experience to posing and predicting "what if…?" Good scientists do this all the time, as do artists and all other innovators. Even better, the experience of making concoctions brings the child into the realms of magic and fantasy…"
The photos of makeshift shelving with old kettles and utensils will trigger happy memories of mud-pies, witchy brew, flower-petal perfume and sand play. The author states that "A mud kitchen includes elements of the much-loved domestic corner and cooking from indoor play, which are then hugely enriched through the special nature of being outside." Yes: The fact that all this sensory exploration and learning comes together in a role-play context creates the perfect formula for deeply-engaged, contented children.
The book ends with a helpful list of books and resources - everything from Stone Soup to Professor Puffendorf's Secret Potions - plus a whole selection of related websites.
Enjoy the book and – most importantly – put it into practice with children.
Printed copies available from Muddy Faces in September 2012 www.muddyfaces.co.uk
Jan White's website: www.janwhitenaturalplay.wordpress.com