Mud Play Beyond K: What Happens When Other Grades Join In?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our outdoor portable mud kitchen. Even though I might teach at one of the lucky schools that has access to green space, these grassy areas are not always available for us or way too wet to use. With some chalk and water from the Fairies of Dundas, along with buckets of old cooking and baking supplies, we can still make a mud kitchen work on any surface.

As I was reflecting on the benefits of this outdoor cooking and baking in my previous post, I wondered what might be possible beyond kindergarten. This seemed like some wishful thinking, until this past week. We were up on “the mountain” on Wednesday, and other classes happened to be out at the same time as us. Soon, students from these different classes came to join in our cooking play.

It was amazing to hear the kids talk ingredients, write recipes together, explore different vocabulary, measure and count amounts, and just connect with each other. This was such a positive connection across grades and brought joy to every single child.

As we soon enter our final month of school and classes consider play days or field trip options, I have to wonder if something as simple as some unstructured sensory play, might also be something worth considering. Yes, this could be extended with these older students by creating media texts for restaurants, writing menus, and even exploring fractions as they measure. We could find expectations from every grade, and learning could also be documented, reflected on, and extended for each child. But maybe this doesn’t need to be a full class option and maybe it doesn’t need to be overly organized in advance. In our class, we always plan for these baking provocations, and welcoming a few additional friends along the way, brings extra smiles to us and to kids.

With mental health being a big focus in schools right now, I have to wonder if these moments also help support this goal. What do you think?


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