Rebecca Diaz-Lopez, CDO Younger Two’s teacher and Michelle Wood, CDO Pre-K teacher saw a mud kitchen at another center and fell in love with the concept. The idea was presented to Kay Jennings, our CDO Director and April Seals, also CDO Pre-K teacher. “The mud kitchen caught my eye because I thought of our rec staff leader, Ms.Valerie, and how much she loves to dig in the dirt. The other location had xylophones in their music area. My twos love guitars and music, so this wall was a way to bring music outside. Both of these areas give the ability for hands-on, open-ended, and creative imagination,” said Rebecca. Michelle said that “I always loved to make mud pies as a little girl, so I wanted our kids at CDO to have the experience.”
Everyone loved the idea of building a mud kitchen for our CDO children and a plan of action was put in place. The money raised by CDO at the Alternative Gifts Fair was designated to build the outdoor learning classroom, which would include a mud kitchen, music wall and other fun learning things. April started to work on the blueprints and she and her husband Jason built the mud kitchen. “It took Jason and me about two evenings to create the countertops with the sinks,” said April. “I love the idea because it gives the children the ability to grow and use their intelligence and imagination. They can create their own story, ” she added. April, Rebecca and her husband Erik, Michelle and her husband Ronald worked on the music wall. It took around seven full days to build it all.
The outdoor learning classroom was built so that the children could have a variety of hands-on experiences. The mud kitchen gives children the opportunity to make mud pies, play with dirt and just have fun while improving their cognitive function and engaging in sensory play. It allows children to play at their own developmental level while learning social, math and science skills. The whole outdoors project encourages creative thinking as well. April also explains that the children are able to use their imagination and sensory benefits as well as their fine motor skills.