Incorporating Montessori in Our Home: Kitchen Setup

It’s not like me to post pictures of something before it’s perfect and completed… but it’s also not like me to actually post pictures of anything I intend to share. I want to make sure this makes it on the blog so here it is in it’s current state. I intend to post more pictures as we add things.

I’m really into Montessori lately. It’s all about fostering independence in the child and helping them feel that the things they spend time on have a purpose. Every child has a drive to do things on their own and Montessori is all about embracing that and making it easier.

Enter our kitchen setup.IMG_5204

From left to right:

Hooks on the wall, within his reach, for his aprons to hang on.  These are both from IKEA.  The green one is waterproof and wipe-able for things like finger painting.  The red one is thin fabric and really pretty useless as food (including tomato sauce!) goes right through it.

On the floor under the aprons is a small caddy with a microfiber cloth and his green feather duster.  This is the start of his cleaning supplies and I’m not sure they will stay there.

The big basket on top of the shelf contains his dishes.  For glasses he uses old jelly jars, the kind that need wax to seal.  I got ours from estate sales and am still looking for more if you have any you don’t want!  They have similar ones on etsy here.

His silverware is standing up in a small round basket inside of the bigger basket.  My Mom found individual “olive forks” at the outlet mall and they are the perfect size for him.  For spoons we have two metal ones with plastic on the handles.  They both came from resale shops or garage sales.  I recently saw online that IKEA has an all metal set that includes a butter knife so I’ll be looking for that the next time I go.

In front of his silverware we stacked his bowls.  They are from Libbey glass and can be seen here.  I found them individually at Meijer, I believe the cost was $1.29 each.  I am very happy with them.  They are cheap, strong (durable!), and the lids are really handy for putting leftovers in the fridge without dirtying a second container.  They don’t tip easily but are sloped enough that he doesn’t struggle to get food out of bottom edge.

His plates are the Corelle Enhancements 7 1/4″ salad/dessert plate.  They are from the set that my Dad and Stepmom got us.  I’m finding that the 7 1/4″ plate is a little small now that he eats full meals so I think we will try some of the 9″ plates soon.  We are fortunate to have a Corelle outlet close by, too, so I can pick up a few from their open stock.  Brian and I use the 10 1/4″ version but that’s a bit big for Kent.

I researched dinnerware pretty extensively when Kent started eating solids and decided I was happy to stick with Corelle.  Porcelain is heavier and I’m sure we would have broken several by now.  As it is, I’ve broken more dishes than Kent and we’ve all dropped them several times without incident.  Melamine was another option I looked in to but we do use a microwave and the safety of heating melamine is sketchy.

The wooden tray on the middle shelf is borrowed from his Melissa & Doug Cutting Food.  It didn’t fit where we store the food so I moved that to a different basket.  We’ll put his food prep and serving utensils in it.  So far he has a small metal serving spatula with a wooden handle.  That came from Brian’s Grandma Betty’s kitchen.  I also recently purchased a wavy chopper for him but we haven’t opened it yet.

The spot to the right of the tray is for his cutting board.  I picked this one but we don’t have it yet.  The same one is sold by Montessori shops and supposed to be good quality and free from chemicals.

On the bottom left is a basket holding his bibs.  He is a very good eater but we still find bibs to be a necessity for greasy or liquid foods.  Who couldn’t still benefit from a bib, really, adults included!?  It cuts down on stain treating.  Even when the baby starts to need bibs I think it will be helpful if Kent can access them and grab them for us.  Most of our bibs are from green sprouts and can be purchased here.  I’m comfortable with the materials and they are still waterproof.  We do have one towel style bib that came to us secondhand.  I’d like to make more of those because I think Kent could take them on and off himself.  The basket was new from either Jo-Ann’s or The Dollar Tree.

Next to the bibs is another basket that will hold cloth napkins.  We have always covered his lap with his old burp cloths, aka cloth diapers.  We’re going to need those for burps again soon, though.  I’d like to switch the whole family over the cloth napkins anyway and if we stored them in Kent’s basket he could learn to pass them out at mealtimes.  Right now we use washcloths, and occasionally grab paper towels for greasy meals.  The basket came from a garage sale.

His table and two chairs are the $20 set from IKEA.  He uses it mostly for a desk while working on his tot trays but also sits there for snack time and occasionally for meals.  The flashlights and cassette player seem out of place since we moved the table in to the kitchen but that has always been there place and it works for now.

He’s learned to keep his drinks on his table so he always knows where the find them.  The sippy cup is stainless steel and from Klean Kanteen.  You can purchase different tops to fit it.  We moved from a soft sippy top to a hard one and I really should move him up to a spout or something now.  We only ever put water in it, or very occasionally a splash of iced tea with water.  It is available at all times and has been since he turned 6 months old.  He also drinks well from an open glass.  He’s been requesting milk a lot lately and we don’t limit it so that’s what you see in his glass.  It started when he was sick and not eating much, and I think it’s continued because he recently learned to open the fridge and milk is one of the only things he can have from there whenever he wants.  (We’ve never given milk as anything more than an option other than water, which is a totally separate topic, but the point here is that he can have it if he wants.)

Opposite the shelf and table is “the big table”.  IMG_5205

The table itself was refinished by Brian’s Dad and given to us when we moved here.  I love that history behind it.

The paper roll on the table is from IKEA.  Kent’s crayons, colored pencils, and markers are in a small plastic container on the extra chair.  We can easily grab them but they are out of sight when not in use.  The trays on the paper roll weren’t working to hold them because he couldn’t easily reach both sides.  He’s welcome to color whenever he likes.  I supervise, and we’re still working on “we only color on paper”.  If I could go back I would not introduce markers until later.  Crayons and colored pencils take more strength to use (to apply enough pressure to make visible lines).  Now that he has markers he usually chooses those over the others.

His booster seat is on the right.  It was made just for us by Brian’s friend, Travis, of A & S Wood Works.  I stained it and topped it with two coats of acrylic so it is easy to wipe clean.  I thought I would add a strap to hold it to the chair and possibly a lap strap.  However, with the chair pinned between the wall and table it is pretty stable.  Kent climbs in and out of it on his own without any trouble.  We used to try to be there to catch him in case he fell but now he’s a pro at it.

The dust buster is a knock-off brand, Readi-Vac.  I just brought it up from the basement today and mounted it on the wall.  I think it was a Black Friday special one year.  I used it occasionally in the past but thought we should try it for cleaning up under the table after meals.  If the concept works out we’ll probably invest in a better one.  This one is not very powerful and is cumbersome for me to empty so I probably won’t try to teach Kent that part.

Well, that’s it.  I tried to link to or at least name everything because I find it frustrating to see something I like and have to search all over for it.  If I missed anything let me know.

What do you think?  How have you made your kitchen more user-friendly for yourself or little ones?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

This post is linked to:
Montessori Monday
Tot School Gathering Place – Week 20


10 thoughts on “Incorporating Montessori in Our Home: Kitchen Setup

  1. Laura

    We have the kid’s cups and plates and silverware in a cupboard. They know if they are thirsty, they can grab a cup and go to the fridge. I wanted to have a more open concept to how I set up their stuff, but I opted to just work with what we have and for the most part, it suits their needs. I need to make more napkins, I have some material cut and everything, but taking the time to run those seams is apparently too much! 🙂

    1. marriedtothefarm Post author

      That’s great that they have access to their stuff. It seems so much easier! I wish we had a cabinet that would work but our doors and drawers don’t open or close smoothly and I get annoyed having to close them behind people. When I stripped the paint off I didn’t strip the back lip of the doors so when it gets humid they glue themselves shut. It’s super classy. 😉

  2. Jess

    I agree – I would never use melamine. And I love Ikea!!! 🙂

    Jason and I frequently wear napkins as bibs. I think we’re just very messy eaters. I just want to encourage you to definitely switch to cloth napkins – it’s all we use, and we love it. You hardly notice the “extra” laundry, and obviously, it’ll save money. We have several napkins – some I made just this year. If you have extra fabric, they were relatively simple to make (although Jason had to do most of the ironing and mitering the corners and me and mitered corners do NOT mix well).

    1. marriedtothefarm Post author

      Good to know the napkins are working out for you! I definitely have fabric. We’ll see if how far I get with all the other sewing I want to do before the baby comes!

  3. momsquestions

    This looks so organized! You’ve thought of a lot of things that I’ve never even considered. I definitely want a place for cloth napkins now. I really appreciate all the detail you went into for this post. I am very inspired.

  4. Pingback: Tot School: What’s Next? | Married To The Farm

  5. Pingback: Montessori Kitchens - Roundup - Planting Peas

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