The Mud Kitchen
The upgrading of the mud kitchen space is absolutely vital to play in our yard. Our playground lacks spaces for construction, imagination and fantasy play, which a mud pit would provide.
A mud pit would allow children to learn and practice skills they might not get in class.
Mud play encourages students to collaborate, create, and self-regulate their emotions without adult supervision. It has STEM applications around trial and error, cause and effect, measuring, and counting. We know that construction style free play has many benefits:
“When playing with objects, children set themselves goals and challenges, monitor their progress towards them, and develop an increasing repertoire of cognitive and physical skills and strategies”
- Dr David White bread, The Importance of Play.
From observation we know that special needs children are drawn to the mud pit space. The lack of diverse play opportunities in the Orange unit make this space crucial. Constructional play has been used as a kind of therapy with Kids aged 6 to 12. Owens EtAl (2009) conducted an experiment during an eighteen week construction therapy program using Lego. Owens concluded that 6 to 11 year olds with high functioning autism and Asperger syndrome decreased manipulative behaviours significantly more in the Lego group than in a matched no intervention control group.
The mud kitchen is a unique learning space which is often overlooked and underutilised. Sand pits are a popular construction space, but limited because it won’t hold water. Mud holds its shape better and allow for more creative play. The mud kitchen also offers imagination and socio-dramatic play as kids pretend to cook, mould, and dig. This requires private speech, which is when children verbalise their actions to make sure the play fits with the agreed rules. Mud play drives communication and collaboration skills and children develop stories and narratives that match their play.
It’s great that we already have a mud play space, but to maximise the potential of the area, we need the support of staff and our community to make it a reality.