Dirt Kitchen: Then and Now

It was almost a year ago that I heard about creating outdoor mud or dirt kitchens, and decided to create one for the kids in our backyard.  In my first post about Dirt Kitchens I wrote:

We looked around to see what we had already that might work for our kitchen, and found an old painted box from my classroom days, as well as the piece of laminate chopped out of our real kitchen to make way for the sink.  Perfect.  We tipped the box over on it’s side and plonked the laminate on top.  And, um, that’s it!  At least for now. (10 August 2010)

These school holidays we decided it was time to replace the original box-and-bench kitchen with something a little more permanent. We set off on an op-shop treasure hunt, searching for cheap, sturdy, wooden items.  We tried to be open minded and think creatively about how pieces could be used.  For a total of under $20, here are the three items we purchased:

This is the kids’ dirt kitchen, not mine, so I took a step back and let them paint it themselves.  We used left over paint from the exterior of our house for a number of reasons.  1 – we already had it.  2 – it will last well outside.  3 – it blends in well with our home, deck and yard. The kids did a great job painting with real brushes and real paint, and didn’t get too much on themselves!

Once all of the pieces were the same colour, they looked like they “belonged” together and the kids were excited to see it all coming together.  We put the new cabinet where the old dirt kitchen was, and attached the other two pieces to the fence with screws.

I added a few hooks for hanging pots and pans, then it was time to bring in all of the kitchen bits and pieces.  A tin tea set, with kettle, saucers and tea cups.  Wooden spatulas and spoons.  A wire basket filled with child-sized aluminium pots and pans. An offcut from a tree log as a chopping board.  And a small cane basket for collecting “ingredients” from around the back yard.

I love how this play space has evolved and grown.  The vine I started training into a roof has exceeded my expectations.  It covers the two arches, forming a beautiful shady canopy for the kids to play under.  It also makes it feel like an outdoor room. The new kitchen cost us very little, yet looks great and the kids really feel they own it.  It has become a much loved feature of our yard.

Such an inviting place to play!

32 thoughts on “Dirt Kitchen: Then and Now

  1. I adore this idea! We have just started building our house, so this is another project to add to the list of ideas for their outdoor play area. I’ve actually been toting with the idea of building an inside toy kitchen for my daughter for Christmas, but I’m thinkingtgeoutdoor one is even better now :)

  2. So wonderful. I love it. Have you heard of the classic book ‘Mudpies and other recipes’? It was reprinted last year. I think your kids would love it, and then I’m sure they’d be inspired to create their own recipes too!

  3. WoW, love it. What a beautiful Play space. it looks so inviting. i know my 2 little ones would love this :)

  4. That is brilliant. Thanks for the inspiration. We have a small house – way too small for an indoor play kitchen, but I think our yard would definitely be able to accommodate something like this!

  5. Beautifully done! I love the living canopy! We just set up our play kitchen in a big sandbox area, hoping to maximize sensory input…now I’m wanting to add some spoon holders and replace our fabric canopy with some living willow or vines. Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. I love this idea!!!! So creative yet simple! I am definitely going to start thinking about how I can create something like this in our rocky/dirt jungle! Thanks for the brilliant inspiration.xo

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