Tuesday, May 6, 2008

beLlY Up tO tHE MuD bAr

Summer hasn’t really even started yet, and I already feel like I’m running out of time. We’re finally getting some nice weather, so I’ve spent the past week cleaning off garden beds, disposing of all the worn, torn outdoor accessories that didn’t survive the winter and gearing up for some outdoor fun. I hosed off my daughter Madeline’s mud bar, gave it a fresh coat of sealer, and she’s already making a mess of things. Having a mud bar in the yard is definitely one of the popular attractions with all her friends, and I'd hate to think I'm the only one out there that encourages my kid to cook up a muddy mess in the yard, (a contained mess, for the most part!) so here’s to sharing an imaginative project just in time for the summer break!!
You'll be a hit with every kid on the block because every young tyke I know loves to play in the dirt and when you add water to the mix, the fun just escalates. Why not give them an outdoor play station that’s well stocked with all the proper tools to cook up a mean batch of mud pies, a killer leaf casserole and a steaming pot of grass soup!
To set up a mud bar in your yard or garden, there are a couple of different ways to go about it. For the basic bench structure, you can either convert an old potting bench or workbench by simply cutting down the legs and altering, or, if you’re a true do it yourself enthusiast, you can construct one from scratch. It’s a fairly simple project that can be completed in an afternoon. We constructed ours out of cedar using a simple workbench design with a back added on. You can adjust the size to whatever suits your space. You can see we've made full size as well as smaller scale ones. For detailed instructions sneak a peek here.
After you have it built or altered, the sky is the limit when it comes to how you go about setting it all up. Install hooks and baskets and stock the bar with the tools of the trade. Shop dollar stores for inexpensive items like kitchen utensils, cutting boards, etc. Setting it up and accessorizing is half the fun. Personalize it with some signage, place outdoors (where there’s easy access to a water supply) and let the muddy creations begin! Have a table set up nearby so they can play restaurant and set out a delightfully dirty feast for you and all their guests. It’s a great way to get kids to spend more time outdoors and celebrate nature in a fun, imaginative way. As I always say, creativity is messy and some of the biggest messes reveal the most amazing discoveries. And if anyone can tap into that, kids can!

Belly up to the mud bar and cheers to a dirty summer, my friends!

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