Preparing your home environment in a Montessori kitchen fashion includes lots of little practical life stations. Creating a child-sized Montessori play kitchen for your toddler is one of the best additions you can make to your home.
Most children begin to show their interest in the Montessori kitchen around 16 to 18 months old. Continue reading to find out exactly what you need to create your child’s play kitchen!
One of the best things about having a child-sized functional kitchen is that your child can learn to get their own glass of water.
Promoting independence and confidence while learning how to pour and drink from a glass. *As your child gets older the glassware should change accordingly.*
Storing only one place setting rather than multiple in the kitchen is important (unless you have more than one child using the kitchen).
This will help in the early stages when your child is just learning how to set the table. Your child will feel a sense of community being able to help set the table at meal times.
With any water activities, there are bound to be spilled. A towel or sponge will allow the child to have control of the error. You’d be surprised how often your child wants a clean and orderly space all thanks to that sensitive period for order!
As I mentioned above, the water doesn’t always make it into the glass. Any water left in the “sink” can then be dumped into a bucket and transferred outside or otherwise disposed of.
Self serves snack stations are the perfect ideas to add to your child’s Montessori kitchen. Giving your child freedom of choice will help their independence soar. Not to mention you can keep yourself from hearing “SNACK!” all day long because now, they can just get their own.
A fantastic addition to your toddler’s Montessori kitchen. My personal favorite is the child-sized broom and brush. This one takes time to master but you can make it a fun game by taping a square on the floor for them to brush into. The concentration level is strong with this one!
A learning tower is a perfect way to bring children up to the counter making it easy to work alongside you through meal time prep! My 3.5-year-old is able to use a step stool now but only for the last few months so the learning tower really helped us fill a gap when we needed just a bit more safety.
We store a cutting board in our daughter’s kitchen so she can easily use her butter knife to cut soft fruit anytime she likes. After working with butter knives and the wavy knife we allowed her to start chopping using a child-friendly paring knife, always with supervision and never stored in her kitchen. We introduce real utensils, glass cups, and dishes with her food.
Some other fun additions are:
Teaching practical life skills is important with the Montessori Method and having a functional toddler kitchen is the perfect way to introduce many life skills such as washing hands, pouring water, prepping food, cutting, and more.
We’ve rounded up some inspiring kitchen set-ups to share ideas on ways that young children can participate in meal preparation.
A place for everything and everything in its place Offering a low cabinet where your child can reach items will boost their self-esteem when you entrust them with tasks such as: Putting dishes away Placing items from the dishwasher into their special shelf Setting a place for themselves at their own weaning table Filling a cup with water This snack station enables access to dishes, silverware, and even cereal with this dispenser.
Montessori Kitchen Ideas from Around the Web These are not “play kitchens”. The Montessori approach encourages children to use real household materials and practice real-life skills. Ideas for things to put in a Montessori kitchen area for kids: Table, Water in a small bowl, cups, plates for food, silverware, dishes, cloth napkins, and dishtowel many families suggest having only one of each item. This way, cooking, serving, washing, drying, and putting them away become part of routine use and enjoy their activities. Monti Kids Tip: Offer a sponge and a dishtowel in a kitchen setting to normalize the idea of spills. They will happen and we can model calmly wiping them up. The Montessori approach guides us to praise the child’s effort to pour water, so it is not important for them to do it perfectly.
I’d love to hear what you plan to have or already have in your toddler’s Montessori kitchen. What ideas you are implementing to help your child in learning? Leave comments below and let me know what’s in store! You can also sign up for our newsletter for more details.
I would personally separate this as functional work versus play, and I would start slow. In the beginning I might only give them enough water to fill up a pitcher, or a fraction of the sink. If I saw the younger one playing with the water I would step in and redirect. For instance, “This water is for filling up our pitcher. Would you like to fill it with water to pour yourself a drink?” or “I see that you are playing with this water so I am going to turn it off. Here is a towel to help me clean spilled water.” I would also make sure that I am providing a lot of water play opportunities. This will help them distinguish the two while also giving them access to explore. You can also use the older one as a model. “Oh come here and look, they got a cup and are now adding a little bit of water. Now they can take a drink!” Just make sure that it isn’t a comparison statement, but an objective observation.
TTL Team Member
I’ve been trying to find a water dispenser and I think I found one like the one you have on Walmart’s website. How do you keep the water jug from coming forward? How do you drain the sink?
Often the weight of the glass jug plus the water inside is enough from it moving around too much. If that is not the case for your set up you could place an anti slip kitchen mat underneath cut to size. I’ve also used one of those the anti slip treads that you attach in bath tubs. As far as draining the sink, this IKEA one is not attached and just drops in place, so you can remove it and empty as needed.
TTL Team Member
At what age is it practical to begin this? I have the smaller IKEA kitchen and my daughter is 15 months.
This article includes some great ideas for starting in the kitchen with your 15-month-old! https://thistoddlerlife.com/montessori-with-your-15-month-old/
What size is your glass water jug you got from Kmart? We’re both 1 gallon each? Would you be able to measure the width of it lol I’m sorry to be annoying but It would be nice if I could stop purchasing and returning all these drink dispensers and be able to find one that works. It’s gotta be out there and I’m determined to find it lol! Thank you!! <3
Here is the link for the exact one I bought. I use them in my home and in our Montessori playgroup. Holly xx
Hi! I’m wondering where you got your water dispenser. I’m having trouble finding one that fits.
I got one like this from Walmart but have also seen them at HomeGoods.
Hi there, I have this Ikea kitchen setup but i’m struggling to find a water dispenser that fits. Do you know where you got the one in the image? Does it fit well behind the sink? Ack, the internet is failing me! Thank you!
I have 2.5yr triplets. I really want to offer a Montessori style kitchen to them but I am running into issues. First, something big enough when we aren’t waiting our turn. Second, when one is pouring water correctly the other comes up behind them and dumps the jug which makes number one our their glass on the floor and number three to come over and throw the glass down on the floor for negative attention since 1 and 2 are gettting attention. Sorry falling asleep during post.. the other issue is the same for all activities I try. What can I expect them to do that’s age appropriate given the extra chaos factor from being in each other’s space all the time. Do you recommend separate working kitchens? Thanks
Although 3 separate kitchens would be wonderful, it’s not very practical. I would suggest getting a sand timer (I got mine from Amazon). If one child is going to use the kitchen to pour a glass of water you could use a minute timer. They should first turn the timer upside down and then get their water. This will indicate to the other children that they have to wait until the timer is done before getting their glass of water. You could perhaps put a piece of tape on the floor where the other children should stand while they wait for the timer to finish. This, of course, won’t happen on its own. You will have to model, explain and reinforce the rules of the timer. Essentially you can use the timer for any material you’d like them to share even the bathroom sink at bedtime! The timers work great for this age because they are turning “wait one minute” into a visual that is much easier for a toddler to understand. Hopefully this helps! You’ll have to update me if you give it a try. 🙂
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I have a 3.5yr old and 1.5yr old and I wanted to turn their ikea kitchen into a functioning kitchen. Both are very independent and love doing things themselves so this is an excellent addition to our house. How do you teach them not to play or pour the water everywhere or does it matter? I put our jug out for a few hours to see how it would work and they ended up with water all over the kitchen and play room… mostly the 1.5yr old. Just wondering how you properly introduce the concept to them?