With Halloween fast approaching, it's a good time to reflect on how you can incorporate this seasonal event into your mud kitchen area. The joy of the mud kitchen lies in its versatility - it's so much more than mud and water!

A fantastic way to encourage children to get creative at the same time as nurturing communication and language development is by transforming your mud kitchen into a potion station. This could be linked to witch's brews, wizards's potions, pumpkin soup or any other Halloween theme. Set ups like these are relatively easy and cost effective but offer maximum engagement. Some of the resources we suggest you might consider include:

* Coloured water
* Pumpkins
* Natural 'ingredients' - petals, conkers, acorns, leaves, shells and pine cones
* Sticks (these make great wands!)
* Different sized spoons
* Large containers to act as cauldrons
* Bubbles, foam, gelli baf
* Teapots
* Pestle and mortar
* Usual mud kitchen tools - spoons, spatulas, saucepans, mashers, colanders, tongs etc

A Halloween themed mud kitchen is likely to be a popular area for children to play, leading to collaboration and the development of key social skills such as sharing, turn taking and the need to be patient and tolerant. During engagement with the Halloween mud kitchen, you will also notice play and learning which can link to all areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage. This makes it ideal for prompting development in a fun, hands on way.

How children access your Halloween mud kitchens will be dependent on their characteristics of learning and their stage of development. We know that all children are unique and therefore this type of open ended activity is valuable in that it can be accessed on the level that suits the child. There is no right or wrong way to play, meaning children are free to explore and be driven by their natural curiosity. It is through this exploratory play that children's communication and language skills develop. They will be sharing ideas, making plans and building a narrative into their play. There will be opportunities to use language based on mathematical concepts such as size, shape and number as well as thinking about the texture and consistency of their potions and brews. Educators can engage in sustained shared thinking with the children, wondering together about what spell they can make up to go with the potions. Who are they going to turn into a frog and how?!

Aside from inspiring language development, your Halloween mud kitchens will encourage fine and gross motor skills, hand eye coordination and dexterity. Children will be building strength in their hands and fingers as they mix, pour, lift and carry ingredients and mud kitchen resources. These types of provocations are also an excellent way to nurture creativity in young children....as well as adults! They will love mixing the different colours of water together, adding ingredients and engaging in imaginative role play. You can support this further by keeping some Halloween story props nearby such as dressing up costumes, puppets, story spoons, books and soft toys. In doing so, you can link children's play to literacy, encouraging the retelling of stories and development of narratives which have evolved through play. Don't forget to add mark making resources to your Halloween mud kitchen, ready to encourage early writing skills. Children can use these for taking potion orders, making tally marks to indicate how many ingredients they have added and noting names for who is waiting to be served in the mud kitchen.

How you develop your Halloween mud kitchen will be dependent on how the children engage. Spend time observing the play, think about how you can extend it and don't forget to involve the children. It's always valuable to listen to the voice of the child as there will be greater engagement with the activity if children have influence over the resources. Perhaps there's a book linked to Halloween that they have particularly enjoyed - think together about how you could incorporate this into your mud kitchen provision. What would the children like to play with? It might involve a witch's tea party, a spooky ice cream parlour or a pumpkin buffet - let their ideas run wild!

Don't forget to share your Halloween mud kitchen activities with us on our social media channels. Enjoy some spooky fun!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cosydirect/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cosydirect
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cosydirect/