When children are outdoors they connect with mother nature and learn a lot from her. It will help them develop self-esteem, enhances confidence and paves the way for more role-play, creativity, communication and team-work. You’ll always find a contented and happy child in a mud kitchen.
Visit a tea shop or café
If you want to create your own muddy tea shop or café, why not arrange to visit a real one? Perhaps you have a local tea shop, coffee shop or café that would be happy to allow you to come and visit, and even sample some sweet treats. This will give the children an experience they might not have had before, plus plenty of ideas for their own tea shop / café. You might want to take small groups of children and make a number of visits!
Set up a tea shop
If you have visited a local premises, talk with the children about what they saw and experienced. Encourage them to use their ideas to create their own mud café. Explore the different roles that might be needed and who will adopt them, what equipment they would like and how they could improvise if it is not available. Some children might design tablecloths or cut paper to make doilies (depending on the type of café).
Role play indoors
Tea shop activities do not have to be limited to outdoors or inside. Both areas can blend together: the kitchen could be outside and the dining area inside, for example. If you have a role play area, make similar equipment available for children to continue their exploration, perhaps opening another establishment: pizza parlour, greengrocer’s stall, post office, and so on.
Make mud biscuits
There is no limit to the type of mud biscuits that can be created with a good range of resources. Along with mud (pre-made or made by the children), a good selection of decorations includes biodegradable glitter, pebbles, shells, pasta, leaves, coloured sand, grass. The children are sure to find their own items as well! Some selection boxes have a card that shows the biscuits included and their names. These cards can be great to stimulate children’s imagination.
Make gingerbread animals
Baking with small groups of children is so much fun, but make sure you refer to your setting’s risk assessment procedures beforehand. Also make sure you check for any food allergies/intolerances.
Here’s a simple recipe to try
There are such a variety of cakes on the market that inspiration is not hard to find should it be needed. Laminated photographs of cakes can be placed in the mud kitchen to stimulate children’s creativity. You could encourage the children to record their cake recipes in some way for others to refer to. They might write them down, draw them, photograph the different stages or record them using suitable electronic devices.
Make a menu board
Having experimented with different biscuits and cakes, encourage the children to create a menu board for their customers, drawing the chosen cakes and biscuits and creating names for them.
Different cultures have distinct traditions in relation to hot drinks and snacks. Make sure you find time to discuss this with the children. You may be able to invite family members in to share their recipes and, perhaps, bring in some samples!
Investigate herbal teas
Bring a selection of herbal teas and steep them in hot water. Allow the children to smell the teas and try to name the ingredients. Once the tea is cold, you could allow the children to take a sip. Let parents and carers know beforehand that this is your plan so they have a chance to decline.
Along with ‘edible’ creations, a tea shop or café needs tea! Buy self-filling teabags for the children to use. These can be filled with natural resources from your setting: grass, leaves, twigs, pebbles, acorns, and so on. You might also want to include some manufactured items too, such as biodegradable glitter and coloured sand. Encourage the children to name their teas.
Teach I’m a little teapot
There are numerous versions of this rhyme that you can teach the children with actions. Here’s one you can try:
I'm a little teapot, short and stout.
Here's my handle, here's my spout.
When the tea is ready, hear me shout:
Tip me up and pour me out.
Conduct a survey to find the favourite biscuit in your setting. Decide with the children which biscuits will be included if you want a selection to choose from. Gather the findings with the children and discuss how these might be displayed for others to see.