Exploring the Outdoor Kitchen in Kenya’s Kids

Exploring the Outdoor Kitchen in Kenya's Kids

Kenya’s Kids, open until January 4, 2020 at the Discovery Center, is a collaborative effort designed to recreate some of the lived experiences of children living in Kenya today by emphasizing both the longtime cultural traditions of the country and its modern technological advances. The exhibit is divided into five different environments that replicate some of the common places children see and experience in Kenya. Each space provides activities and hands-on learning that encourage visitors to use their imagination and to ask questions in order to gain a better understanding of life and culture in Kenya today.

What are kitchens like in Kenya?

Since food is often cooked on an open fire in Kenya, and since temperatures are pretty consistent throughout the year, kitchens are typically outdoors with a thatched roof in case of rain. Some popular Kenyan dishes include:

  • Ugali, a cornmeal staple often mixed with vegetables or stew.
  • Irio, a mashed peas and potatoes mixture.
  • Githeri, boiled beans and corn.
  • Pilau or biriyana, two kinds of spiced rice served in different regions of the country.
  • Sukuma Wiki, collard greens or kale.
  • Stew, usually prepared with meat and vegetables in a light tomato base.

What can kids do in the outdoor kitchen at Kenya's Kids?

  • Grind up corn kernels in the corn grinder to make cornmeal, a popular ingredient in Kenyan foods like ugali.
  • Pretend to make a fire and prepare foods brought at the duka.
  • Roll out the dough at the table to make chapatti bread, a popular food eaten throughout the day.
  • Try transporting water from one place to another using different techniques. How far can you carry the jug of water? How far can you pull the hippo roller? Do you think you could transport water this way every day? What other ways can water be transported?

Kids using rolling pins to roll out dough in the house portion of the Kenya's Kids exhibit.

What do kids learn at the outdoor kitchen in Kenya's Kids?

  • Days begin early for kids in Kenya; everyone plays an important role, from preparing meals to caring for livestock.
  • Not every home has running water; kids often have to collect and transport water daily, sometimes from long distances.
  • Kitchens in Kenya are also social areas in the home where families and friends gather while food is being prepared.

Kenya’s Kids is part of a cultural exhibit series created by The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum with a goal of introducing children to cultures from around the world. This immersive exhibit is designed for children 3 to 12 years and was created in partnership with the St. Louis Kenyan community. Kenya’s Kids is generously made possible by the Crawford Taylor Foundation and The Dana Brown Charitable Trust, U.S. Bank Trustee. Locally sponsored by the Redbud Foundation, Kenya’s Kids will be on display at The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center from September 13, 2019 to January 4, 2020 and is included in regular admission.