Forest Schools are inspiring places, designed to give children the opportunity to develop confidence and increase self-esteem in natural woodland. Nathan James Dodd suggests ten items that will useful in such an environment.
When David Coton's children suggested setting up a mud kitchen, he was initially unsure what was involved, but soon found out that they are easy to set up, great fun, educational and would keep the children busy for hours.
Mud kitchens have grown in popularity as they are so easy to create and offer learning as well as entertainment for your children.
Getting your children to play outside is a huge benefit and mud kitchens can be very simple affairs kitted out with old bowls and containers of different shapes and sizes which will soon be full of soil, sand and water.
Utensils and pans can be hung next to the kitchen if located near a fence or wall. Shelving would also be a good idea, so this semi-enclosed space will start to resemble a real kitchen which will encourage the children even more.
To avoid damaging the lawn too much, a permanent area for the kitchen might be established with a decking floor.
Normal kitchen utensils should be adequate, make sure there is a good range, not only containers but scoops, moulds and whisks. Jam jars are useful and small bowls for presentation.
It's essential to have a supply of water, a watering can or a hose from an outside tap as, although children might like to fill containers, they might prove too heavy to carry.
Ingredients for any mud pie will include plants, gravel and pebbles, so make sure there are plenty around and any prized plants are out of bounds. You can also perhaps supply colourings and other items that can be added and mixed.
Working surfaces must be at a convenient height so that children of different ages can easily create their concoctions, and a Sand Pit and Water Table would be ideal.
Your children will learn lots from this process and interaction with others. They will exercise their imagination, learn new vocabulary, observe how cooking transforms ingredients and a whole lot more, while thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Nathan James Dodd
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