mud kitchen activity

Simple to set up, our mud kitchen activity requires only a bucket of mud, a few kitchen items and a handful of “past their best” pantry items.

mud kitchen with expired pantry items (happy hooligans)
If you’ve been following along with us for a while, you know how much I love coming up with unique mud play activities!  The inspiration behind today’s mud kitchen activity was the awesome pretend “coffee shop” which kept the hooligans busy all last Friday morning.   It was a huge hit, and required nothing more than a few basic supplies and some sand, water and dish soap.

I’m happy to say that our mud kitchen today was also a complete success, and once again, the hooligans were engaged for most of the morning cooking up a storm with a bunch of stuff I already had on hand.

For those concerned that we wasted food doing this activity, I want to say that all of the items you see in the round tray, are materials that we’ve used previously in many of  our sensory bins.  When we’re finished with a bin, I seal up the pasta, lentils, rice etc. to be used again and again.  We’ve been using these same dried food items for a couple of years now.

As for the shaker bottles, I used a small amount of oatmeal, which lasted the entire morning, and some old, dried dill that was past its best.

Supplies we used to create our mud kitchen:

supplies/ingredients for mud kitchen activity

For your convenience, I’ve added affiliate links for some of the products in this post:

To make our mud:

play mud: 50/50 sand and potting soil mixed with water

I used a mix of approx 50/50 sand (from our sandbox) and potting soil, and stirred in just enough water to make it moldable.

I set the whole kit and caboodle up on our handy-dandy 6 dollar thrift-shop coffee-table, and the cook-fest began.IMG_0037

The hooligans spent the better part of the morning scooping, pouring, mixing and garnishing their concoctions.

tweezing, ladeling, scooping, cutting

And I gotta say:  they looked fantastic!

a shaker bottle dispenses rolled oats

I was impressed with how deliberately the preschoolers worked, carefully arranging and decorating their plates.

decorating a mud pie with dried pasta and lentils

We snipped some herbs and flowers from the garden and they added those to their creations.

The most popular items at the table were the shakers – perfect for adding the final touch to a dish.IMG_0141

The children first filled their pie plates, and then moved on to the bowls and tart tins. mud cupcakes

After about an hour, I suggested that they use the water from our camping jug, to make soup.

Our water dispenser:

Our camping water jug is a much-loved addition to our outdoor play space when the weather is warm.  They love having their own personal supply of “running water” in the yard.  It’s great for activities like this, because it saves me from running in and out of the house to refill pitchers with water, and the kids don’t soak themselves at the dispenser  like they tend to if they’re using the garden hose.IMG_0097

I’d placed the water-jug a short distance away from the mud table, so they ran back and forth, filling their small bowls with water, and dumping them into the large bowl of mud, until it was brimming.  Then they added flowers, cut grass and their food items, and stirred and scooped the soup into their bowls.adding water to the mud kitchen

Fun?  You bet it was!  Messy?  Sure, but what a wonderful experience!  second hand coffee table set up with mud kitchen actvitiy

I had them wear their aprons to keep their clothes from getting too messy.  These aprons are THE BEST!  I made them a couple of years ago out of the legs of worn out jeans so they’re really durable, and water and stain resistant.  They’re easy to make, requiring only basic sewing skills.  Click here to see my tutorial.  re-purposed denim aprons - happy hooligans

Clean up was a snap:

At the end of the morning, I drained the water in the big bowl off into the garden, and then I dumped the contents of the plates and bowls into the bowl.  I used the cookie lifter to scrape the mess on the table into the bowl, and then we dumped the whole thing into our compost bin.  A quick spray with the hose had all of the tools and table clean.

When it comes to good, old-fashioned fun, you really can’t beat a bucket of mud for keeping kids engaged and entertained.

mud kitchen activity pie plates and small bowls

If you’d like to see a few more of our favourite mud activities, check out our muddy car wash and our one-of-a-kind portable mud-pit.


If this is your first visit to Happy Hooligans, I’d love for you to pop over and LIKE us on facebook.  I update my page daily with easy and affordable arts, crafts and play ideas.

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You can follow me on Pinterest too!  I have over 90 boards dedicated to all kinds of kids’ crafts and activities, as well as some personal interest boards too.follow the Hooligans on Pinterest!

See you there!


  1. says

    Love this – I hadn’t thought of mixing sand into the mud – grand idea. Can I link to your post? I’m putting together a quick post on easy recipes for toddlers to make on their own ….

  2. Renee says

    I have plans for this at DD’s messy birthday party this weekend. I saved our rotating spice rack, the one with the 7 year old spices that we will never use! They will love it.

  3. says

    I will so do this this summer. My kids are forever building with mud and making a crazy mess. This would give them some direction and ideas on how to do something more productive with mud.

  4. Gail says

    Every time I read your posts I wish my kids could come to your house for childcare! LOVE your ideas, the recycled household and thrift store materials, the focus on process rather than product. THanks for posting!

    • happyhooligans says

      You’re so welcome, Gail. I’m so happy you love the things we get up to and into here! I really do love keeping it simple, and using or re-using things we already have around the house. There are literally countless activities and crafts that can be done without ever spending a cent!

  5. Nancy says

    Where did you get the camping water jug? I’ve been looking for one but can’t find it. Please let me know where to find one. Thank you.

    • happyhooligans says

      Walmart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire all carry them here in Canada Nancy. Our second hand shop usually has a few of them too.

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