Monday, May 7, 2012

Mudpie Kitchen Update--making a pallet cabinet.

We built a simple mudpie kitchen a couple years back, but this year our girl is getting old enough to handle a little more complex playspace.  So at the beginning of the spring I went to work and spruced things up a bit for her!  My rules for myself were that I wasn't going to buy anything--I would only repurpose items we already owned.  Also I tried to stick to natural materials and non-plastic items as much as possible. 

To begin with I went through all my kitchen cabinets and collected any items I don't use that would work in her mudpie kitchen.  Metal bowls, baby food jars, spice jars, glass bottles, a frying pan, some old potholders, etc.  It was a great motivation for me to clean out my cabinets a bit!

Next I started scouring the internet for ideas on outside storage.  Our previous mudpie kitchen space really didn't have a good system for holding the kitchen items.  As a result the items were being spread all over our backyard.  This meant they got mowed up, rotted from the sun, lost, and just plain made my yard look junky.  Also this did not help teach responsibility to Quinn for taking care of her work.  So I knew we needed some kind of storage system.  I went room by room through our house and garage to see if I could find anything that would work, but no extra pieces were showing up.  My plan was to use some pieces of scrapwood and some bricks to try and make some shelves.  As I was selecting the scrapwood pieces I wanted from behind the garage I spotted a pallet I had been saving for a pallet garden.  I'd decided to nix the pallet garden since I have plenty of space for regular gardens, so the pallet was just sitting around.  PERFECT!

I used a wire brush to clean it up and then started nailing scrap boards on it to make shelves.  I made some shelves to stick out for workspaces, and then put boards on the bottom of the slats so that kitchen items could sit in them--in essence they made storage bins.  I found some terracotta pots to fit inside to organize utensils.  I used some cuphooks to hold the potholders, and some screws on the side to hold the pan and some measuring cups.  I was so pleased with how well it turned out and we didn't have to spend a penny!!

We fill the baby food and spice jars with "decorations" such as pebbles, shells, seeds, flowers, etc. to decorate our cakes and cupcakes.  We put flowers in the vases (glass jars) on the top shelf.  I potted two little herb plants to add some green to the area. 

I put some extra stepping stones we had laying around to define the area--sort of an "outdoor area rug" effect. 

I painted our rules on a piece of scrapwood.  We have a sandbox right next to the mudpie kitchen, but I am not in favor of mixing the sand and the mud.  Hence the rules.  :)

This shelf is made by nailing a board to the 2X4 on the fence and the other end to a wooden stump.  I drew "burners" on using a marker. 

The chiminea came from a neighbor's trash.  I made the chalkboard with a piece of scrapboard and some black paint. 
 Here is the eating area--stumps and a small table.  These stumps also double as a great place for Quinn to practice her balance--she moves away the table and walks across them. 

The tire is filled with woodchips from Daddy's shop.  The woodchips come in very handy as "chocolate" in our mudpies!!

The tub is used for dishwashing.  I fill the watering can with water before each play session to add water to cakes, pies, coffees, etc. 

Of course we need a good handbroom to dust off all the play surfaces when they get too dirty!!

Here's my girl hard at work whipping up something delish!
She is LOVING using a small spray bottle (a washed out stain remover bottle) to add water to her treats, and of course that is great hand/wrist exercise and promotes muscle control!!

We spend huge amounts of time out in the mudpie kichen (which is situated next to my garden, nice for me!).  I love to watch my girl creating away, and it is such peaceful, creative, thoughtful play for her. 

I am a pretty big stickler about all the kitchen items being cleaned up and put away after each use.  I want to keep our items and our mudpie kitchen in good shape and I also want to reinforce responsibility to Quinn. 

I do include glass and breakable items in our mudpie kitchen.  I believe that children need to practice handling fragile items and learn that glass things can break.  We've already had one babyfood jar break and we learned the consequences of that--no bare feet on the patio for several weeks.  That was a huge deal for my girl who hates shoes, and it totally reinforced the concept of being careful with breakable items. We wrote "Caution--Glass" on the patio with sidewalk chalk to warn others that small pieces might still be there--a great use of emergent writing!!

I encourage you to think about a mudpie kitchen!  Start simple and challenge yourself to only use items you already have.  And if you live in Houston, invest in some mosquito spray.  ;)
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