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Pretend Play and Cooking Outdoors

Baking Al Fresco – Part of our Summer Fun Series

From making mud-pies to rock soup, transforming our backyard into a kitchen, bakery or restaurant is a surefire way for us to fill many hours of the day in the summer time.  I find collecting a few recyclable containers such as yogurt cups, aluminum baking dishes, plastic jugs etc.. makes my outdoor chefs even more excited to cook. Here are our favorite recipes.


Scrumptious Mudpies

Ingredients: Dirt, water, rocks and sticks

Utensils: foil pie dishes or take away containers, wooden spoons, large mixing bowl or plastic tub, something for scooping the dirt (measuring cup or yogurt cup)


s: using a scooper, let each chef take turns combining water and dirt into bowl or tub until the chefs find a consistency they are happy with (aka let the children make a mess). Transfer ingredients into pie dishes.  Decorate with rocks and sticks or anything else really.

Beautiful Butterfly pies

Ingredients: Dirt, water, one table spoon of sugar per pie, flowers, stones, shells, beads etc.

Utensils: foil pie dishes, wooden spoons, large mixing bowl or plastic tub, a scooper.

Directions:  follow the same directions for the Scrumptious Mudpie, then transfer ingredients into pie dishes.  Wait for the mudpie to start drying up (about an hour ) I usually time this so that the pie “bakes” in the sun while we eat a snack and read a story or paint some rocks etc…)

Once the pie is somewhat dry, sprinkle a table spoon of sugar and then decorate with pebbles, flowers, petals, etc.. Place the pie near a tree or flower bush and watch for butterflies – they will come and rest on the flowers and stones!

Cakes & Sandaes

Ingredients: Sand and Water

Utensils: cups, plates, bucket, shovels, old ice cream scooper, Sandbox or large plastic bin

Directions: Mix some water and sand to get a dense packing sand consistency – like you would need for making a sandcastle.  Use a scooper or shovel to serve sand onto a cup or plate, old plastic tray etc…

We like to take turns serving up our creations and pretend eating them. We also like to make up all sorts of absurd flavors like “stinky feet marshmallow delight” or “sour blueberry and snail swirl”.  Other times we celebrate everyone’s birthdays by singing a round of Happy Birthday for each person. Once we get started, the kids take the lead and I follow in their imagination.

Grass Stuffed Burgers

Ingredients: Grass Clippings, Flowers, Leafs, water

Utensils: Plates, containers, spoons, old or kids pan, spatulas

Directions: Collect some grass clippings, if not clumpy yet add a little bit of water and mix it up. Use Leafs as buns and flowers as stuffing and or condiments. We like to pretend fry them, flip them, season etc…

Rockin’ Soup

Ingredients: Rocks, Water, flowers, pebbles, mulch, sticks

Utensils: A “cooking” pot, wooden spoon, ladle, cups

Directions: Once you have collected your ingredients, add some water to your “cooking” pot  and then slowly add ingredients. My little chefs like to take turns calling out what needs to be added “3 pinches of pebbles” , “one dash of flower petals” , “ a cup of sand” etc… Mix well, and keep playing until everyone is simmered out.

So what’s cookin’ in your backyard?