Mud kitchens: why?

Soldiers in army training. Or they could be in a school mud kitchen.

Education has changed greatly since I was at school. The curriculum is much more structured and my sons know a hell of a lot more than I did at both their ages. It’s not all progress though. There is something that has become ‘a thing’ in recent years that’s driving me round the bend. Mud kitchens.

They first appeared in pre schools and nurseries, but have spread to primary schools. Unsurprisingly, the result is that children often look like they’ve just got back from Glastonbury.

I’m all for letting kids play outside whatever the weather. They’re British, so need to become used to getting soaked. I also understand that a bit of dirt is good for them. But they don’t need encouraging. It’s organic stuff that they will get on them, well… organically.

Kids are perfectly capable of getting messy on their own. Mine can be relied upon to fall in the last surviving puddle a day after is has rained. Of course, they enjoy jumping in them the previous day too. While they mercifully grow out of watching Peppa Pig, some of her teachings remain ingrained.

Why, then, is there a dedicated area with pots, pans and a dud mircowave? It isn’t possible to play with the stuff without getting filthy. Given the appearance of their clothes sometimes, I can only assume that playtimes resemble a certain Monty Python sketch…

I’d have thought that school uniform would be second only to special occasion attire in the mustn’t-get-dirty stakes. Maybe that’s just my wallet talking, but it seems wrong that some of their most expensive garments get this treatment so often. To think how clean and rich in colour they once were.

Maybe it’s also my childhood squeamish side emerging too. My mum still likes to remind me of how much I hated getting my hands dirty as a kid. I’m well and truly beyond that though – becoming a parent has seen to that.

The teachers can’t enjoy having a room full of grubby little urchins who look like they’ve been in a Sunday League goalmouth scramble. Parents don’t particularly enjoy having to wash their uniforms as frequently either. On the days in which my sons don’t actually lose their jumpers, there’s a pretty high chance that one of them will be grubby.

“Mud, mud glorious mud. Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood” says a famous song. Really? It’s making mine boil!


  1. Elaine Livingstone

    Can’t even see the need for them in the back garden myself, my grandkids attract dirt like magnets as well, and get grubby enough normally.
    I don’t mind chalks and paints, happy for them to get covered in cake mix, but agree on a designated mud area. Do you buy special germ free mud to use with it?
    Biggest thing that makes me laugh with this in school is all the kids that want to dig in and get muddy. But when in playgroup as we did not have a sink in the playroom the children washed their hands in a bowl of water after painting, but water had to be changed as only one child could wash their hands in it for cross contamination……

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