Ruby's mud kitchen

After I graduated from university, my first job was as a teaching assistant in the Nursery class of a Primary School. I worked with an incredible teacher who had three decades of experience in Early Years teaching, and I learned so many invaluable things from her. One of the first things she taught me was about the importance of outdoor play, whatever the weather. This teacher never spoke negatively about how wet or cold or miserable it was outside (as so many British people are inclined to do), she simply dressed appropriately, went outside and created wonderful learning opportunities for the children. I cannot recall the children in her class ever complaining about the weather either, which I am sure is testament to the fact that children mirror what they see and hear.
In my years of Early Years teaching that followed, I endeavoured to provide children with an outdoor environment where there learning and exploration would thrive. While I often had to be rather creative, due to limited resources, I saw how children can take the simplest of things and develop wonderful play and learning through their own initiative. Like mud. In my first year of teaching, I created a digging pit and provided a selection of tools, pots and bowls for the children to use. All kinds of roleplay scenarios and learning developed in and around this digging pit, including digging for treasure, finding worms, making stone soup, exploring changes in the consistency of mud when water was added, the list could go on and on. I would have loved to have been able to make the children an outdoor mud kitchen to extend the learning opportunities, but sadly my budget just couldn't stretch to make it happen.
Now that I have my own daughter, I love that I get the opportunity to watch the way she enjoys exploring and learning. While we don't have a particularly exciting or spacious garden, I am so grateful for the space we do have, and I am trying to make the most of it. For some time, I have been wanting to create a mud kitchen for Ruby. I recently read a lovely blog post about a mud pie kitchen, written by Ginny who is a Mum to seven children, which gave me a bit more inspiration and motivation to actually create an outdoor kitchen for Ruby. I was surprised at just how hard it was to find kitchen resources in second hand shops, but after a good amount of searching, I found a few pieces. Then my neighbour's house was being cleared out, and an entire box of kitchenware was put out on the street to be taken, so I was thrilled to be able to give his old pots and pans a new home.
I would love to add more to the mud kitchen over the Summer, but for the time being, Ruby has been thoroughly enjoying mixing, pouring, stirring and transferring soil between her different containers.