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Mud pies, Salad soup and Pasta sandwiches

By Marisa Campbell

An emerging interest in the nursery classroom has been baking and concocting recipes in our outdoor Mud Kitchen. Using natural sensory ingredients such as, sand, soil, and water and transforming them into milk, eggs, salt to make into cupcakes and vegetable soup is one example of their dramatic play. We made so many literary connections through some read-aloud stories and poetry: In Bunny Cakes, by Rosemary Wells, brother and sister, Max and Ruby make cakes for their grandmother. While Ruby’s cake is made with eggs, milk, flour, sugar, raspberry fluff icing and sugar hearts, Max’s cake is made with dirt, water, earthworm icing and red hot marshmallow squirters. Also, we chanted the lively poem, “Bananas and Cream,” by David McCord: “We couldn’t say fruit, we couldn’t say cow, we didn’t say sugar–we don’t say it now. Bananas and cream, bananas and cream!” To encourage narrative from our learners about what they are making, we read parts of Children’s Cookbook: Quick and Tasty Recipes for Young Chefs, to help them use procedural text as inspiration for describing the steps in their recipes.  

IMG_5469 (2) Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells

During an Inquiry exploration, we offered the students varying shades of chocolate (brown paint), water, and “sprinkles” for them to experience baking on paper. We called this “batter painting.”

Mia: I think I am going to make a cake. I’m going to put on batter. Now I’m going to add some chocolate. Now I’m going to try some darkest batter. I havn’t used this water yet…I just added a little. Now I’m going to add some sprinkles-some rainbow. I think after I add rainbow sprinkles, I’m going to add pink sprinkles. I’m making a cake. That looks good. This is the batter (points to middle) and this is the cake. I was going to make a layer cake. Sometimes I paint at home and sometimes I bake at home but I never painted a cake like this.

Evan: I’m making a cake that I will add candles to. I’m making chocolate cake. I’m adding the candles and the yellow sprinkles will be the flames.

Cy: I needed this much so I can make a line of sprinkles. It’s a chocolate cake. The red ones are the sprinkles and the blue ones are the candles. I’m making it so pretty.

Pearl: Look at mine! Mine is beautiful!   

Lyndon: I’m making a cake. I’m make a chocolate cake. My ingredients are this, this and this!

Gabriel: I’m making chocolate cake with rainbow sprinkles and yellow sprinkles.

Simran: It reminds me of the American flag because of the gray, red and blue. Mine is just decoration. Look at the shades!

Mylah: I’m making strawberry cake. Strawberries and powder and glitter.

Charlie: An apple tree that can make sprinkles. These are cupcakes! I’m making three things.

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Celia brought in new materials for the mud kitchen to inspire the bakers and chefs. Offering this sensory play not only entices the senses, it also allows for opportunities in language development, symbolic play and mathematical thinking.

IMG_5665 Introducing Mud kitchen supplies.       IMG_5755                                               IMG_5721 IMG_5712


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Mia: I made that vegetable soup. It’s warm, not too hot.

Luca: this is wet from the sand. It’s bread dough. Actually, it’s banana bread.

Alex: It’s something for dessert. It’s a surprise.

Celia: What ingredients do you need from the store?

Luca: Some pepper and some garlic.

Mia: I was using all the ingredients.

Gus: I need you to buy flour, eggs and strawberries.

Simran: Please buy chocolate chips.

Simran: Ingredients are things that you put in the cake. I’m putting the last ingredient. Mine is fancy-because it’s filled up and smooth!


Gus: the cake is done.

Clara: Pretend I have a special mix from my grandmother.

Gus: We can eat the cake after dinner. I’m sweeping all the flour. Everyone can have a piece. It’s so special.


We introduced corn meal for an inquiry choice, which continues to be interesting and delightful for our learners to explore.

Ginger: I’m putting chocolate chip sprinkles on the pie. I’m doing both.

Gus I’m making chocolate cake.

Ginger: I’m going to spread the flour.

Pearl: I’m making corn pie.

Alex: I’m making corn bread.

Miles: I need the little much-a little pinch.

Pearl: I just need a little sugar. I’m making blueberry cupcakes.


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The students found much delight in Froggy Bakes a Cake by Jonathan London. Froggy learns what happens when you don’t follow steps to a recipe!

Pearl: I’m making chicken soup.

Cy: This recipe calls for 100 water!

Charlie: step 1: sand step 2: water

Clara: Make sure you get lots! Let it boil. Let it sit for  a minute.

Simran: I’m making cupcakes. I need more ingredients… batter and sugar and don’t forget water.

Clara: I’m mixing the sugar. Here’s some brown sugar with a bit of real sugar in it.

Charlie: This calls for 1 cup of sugar.

Gus: Hey, would you like some soup? It’s salad soup.

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