Autumn Mud Kitchen: 20 Simple Resource Ideas

The colder weather needn’t be a reason to stop playing outdoors so why not try some Autumn mud kitchen ideas to help prolong play?


an old pan from the kitchen is being used in the mud kitchen to make pumpkin pies out of playdough. To the side are some old sunflowers. The petals have been plucked to make a garnish.


Why Is A Mud Kitchen Beneficial?

The main benefit is that a mud kitchen will help to encourage authentic play. It’s particularly great for when your children are entering the realm of make believe ‘dramatic play.’ You can read all about the benefits of dramatic play here. 

Other benefits include:

  • Easy ‘sensory play‘ option. Sensory play is important and there’s no better way to embrace it than to be outside engaging with natural resources!
  • Language development – playing pretend, learning new vocabulary, playing with siblings /other children
  • Early math – counting ingredients, capacity, volume, weight etc
  • Hand-eye coordination – pouring ingredients, adding water and so on
  • Fine motor skills – stirring potions, using tongs, grating chalks.
  • Learning about the world – children make sense of their everyday world by emulating what they see.
  • Simply being outside! Children need at least 2 hours outside each day. Playing in a mud kitchen is an easy way to pass that time.


A young girl in a pink fleece sprinkles grated chalk onto a pumpkin 'pie' (made of play dough) in an Autumn mud kitchen


20 Autumn Mud Kitchen Resources

Here are just ideas for what you can use in an Autumn mud kitchen. I always recommend that you use items that are seasonal rather than store bought. Availability of the items below will depend on where you live.

  1. Leaves: Collect colorful leaves for mixing into mud creations or as pretend food.
  2. Pinecones: These can be used as scoops, dishes, or even as decorations.
  3. Twigs and Branches: Great for stirring, building, or creating mini log cabins.
  4. Acorns: Use them as pretend acorn cups, or create tiny acorn pies and cakes.
  5. Chestnuts / Conkers: Perfect for rolling in the mud or using as natural “meatballs” in play cooking.
  6. Seed Pods: Pods like milkweed or sweetgum can be interesting additions to mud recipes.
  7. Pebbles and Stones: These can be used to decorate mud pies or as play cooking ingredients.
  8. Moss: Create a “mossy garden” or use it to decorate mud structures.
  9. Pine Needles: Use them as broom bristles or add them to your mud creations.
  10. Fallen Flowers: Gather fallen petals to add color and texture to mud dishes.
  11. Bark: Use it as pretend food platters or for building structures.
  12. Small Logs: Ideal for creating miniature log cabins or bridges.
  13. Dried Grass: Make miniature brooms or use it to add texture to mud creations.
  14. Sunflower petals: These can be used for decorating or as pretend salad leaves.
  15. Feathers: Collect fallen feathers for decorating mud pies or as ingredients in imaginary dishes.
  16. Small Pinecones: Mini pinecones can be used as garnish or toppings for mud creations.
  17. Wild Berries: Find and use non-toxic berries for pretend baking and cooking.
  18. Aromatic Herbs: Use herbs like mint or lavender to add a sensory dimension to play.
  19. Small Rocks: Perfect for stacking, building, and creating mud sculptures.
  20. Fallen Tree Bark: Use it for texturing mud creations or as pretend wood chips for “cooking.”

Remember to ensure that any items you gather for your Autumn Mud Kitchen are safe for children to handle and play with, and always supervise them during outdoor activities. Some items listed here might be considered unsuitable for very young children who still put items in their mouth. 

Get 8 Autumn Mud Kitchen ‘Recipes’ to Download

The image shows two different recipe cards for an Autumn themed mud kitchen. One is called 'Autumn Soup' and the other is called 'Pumpkin Pancakes'

Children are honestly BRILLIANT at creating their own recipes but if you are looking for some playful inspiration, I have included some A4 sized recipe cards in my exclusive membership, ‘How I Drink my Coffee Hot.’

The Autumn Mud Kitchen Recipe cards themselves are written with children in mind (and have been tested by my 6 year-old daughter). However younger children might need the cards read to them.

Instructional texts (such as recipe cards) are a great way for children to follow instructions and work on their comprehension skills.

The beauty of doing reading ‘out in the wild’ is that children don’t often even realise that they are still working on their reading skills.

With the exception of the bubble foam lattes (which might get out of hand if the dish soap was used freely!), I have deliberately left off quantities so that your child can create more freely.

All ‘ingredients’ are merely suggestions and you absolutely don’t need to create the mud kitchen recipes in the same way.

The ‘lemonade’ recipe could be used as a real drink, but if you are intending to use the idea for play only, there is no need to add the sugar.

Autumn Blog posts to read next:

If you loved these Autumn Mud Kitchen Ideas, you might also enjoy some of our other Autumn posts. Most are suitable for both toddlers and preschoolers:

Autumn Art Ideas for Preschoolers

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Mask

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts

Autumn Loose Parts Play

Autumn Preschool Leaf Cutting Tray

Apple Playdough Activity

Farm Playdough Ideas

Sunflower Sensory Play Activity 

You can also search the keyword ‘Autumn’ in the blog search bar for the most up-to-date Autumn blog post listing.


Interested in learning more?

If you enjoyed these Autumn Mud Kitchen ideas and want to learn more about sensory play and the importance of play in the early years, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Sensory Play Mini Course

Starting School Mini Course 

Play Space 101 Mini Course

Toys 101 Mini Course

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.