Toddlers at Cricklade Children’s Centre had fun getting mucky yesterday at the opening of their outdoor mud kitchen.

The sun shone while parents watched their little ones squidging, mixing and stirring piles of sloshy soil using kitchen utensils.

The centre hosted the activity as part of its ‘Stay and Play’ group, which runs every Tuesday from 10-11.30am.

Play helper Liz Baker helped to organise the activity: She said: “We haven’t done it before but other nurseries are raving about it.

“It’s all about getting the children outside and getting them dirty, letting them mix soil and water. All the parents have donated pots and pans to the kitchen, for the kids to play with.”

The centre helps to support parents and children in the local area, in a sociable environment.

“It’s good to get the children starting to interact with each other before they go to school. There’s a big social aspect – parents will often meet here, go for a coffee afterwards and end up becoming really good friends”, said Liz.

Mud kitchens are becoming increasingly popular at playtime, with describing the idea as muddy play the natural way. Children can get creative making mud cupcakes, mud soup and mud pies, without the clean-up needed in a normal kitchen.

Fiona Kuipers took part with her four-year-old son Harvey. She said: “It’s really great fun and the kids really like it. It’s good for Harvey, who doesn’t usually like getting dirty.

“He’ll be straight in the bath when we get home!”

The grassy play area even came fully-furnished with a kitchen sink, though the toddlers were confused to see no water coming out of the taps. Watering cans were filled up for the children to splash onto their creations.

Angela Jenson, chairwoman of Community Lesisure at Cricklade Town Council, was at the event with the town crier.

She said: “It’s such an imaginative play idea. It’s a great opportunity for the children to do something different outside rather than playing with sand.

“We’re thankful to the staff who were here last night setting it all up and making it secure.”

Stay and Play welcomes children under the age of five from Cricklade and the surrounding area, and runs through term time as well as during school holidays.

The mud kitchen will remain outside for the children to play with until the end of the year.