Isobel actually calls this activity “mud cook” but for the sake of grammar we’ll officially call it mud cooking. For us, what sets this activity apart from other types of digging the dirt and mud is that I took items from her thrifted toy kitchen and brought them outside to be permanently a part of the mud-cooking chef’s batterie de cuisine. Eventually I bought her specific kitchen equipment just for the backyard. I may have mentioned Isobel’s obsession with turning any toy or play situation into an arena for her to bake happy birthday cakes and cokies, and try as I might I was never able to pique her interest in building sandcastles. She only wanted to bake and cook, so taking kitchen toys outside was a logical step.
Like I mentioned, with the exception of the new thrifted toys I bought for mud cook everything here was once and indoor cooking toy, but after its first trip outside I made them outdoor only toys permanently. It’s just not worth the trouble to scrub them every time and you certainly aren’t going to want to clean up the bits of dirt and sand they track in.
I always fill a tub with fresh water whenever we play mud cook and it comes in handy for several purposes: 1.) Isobel likes to add her own water to her “dishes” as part of the cooking process. 2.) It’s handy for sticking your kid’s hands or feet in when they feel they are too muddy to continue. 3.) It’s fun for them to sit in, according to Isobel. 4.) and, finally, you can teach your child the most important step in cooking, which is washing your dishes when you are done. (Or at least just toss them in to soak so they are ready for next time, which is generally what we do.)
Things that come in handy for mud cook:
- tub for water and a tub for dirt
- a pretend cooking surface (in this case, a kneeling pad for gardening)
- pots, pans, utensils
- an active imagination or a really strange appetite