This past week we set up a functional toddler-sized kitchen for K (who is now 16 months) in our kitchen.
We’ve started off using this functional kitchen as a handwashing station, but eventually, it will serve as much more (we didn’t want to introduce too many new things to her at once).
When K is ready we will teach her how to pour her own drinking water from the water jug, get her own dishes and utensils for mealtimes, and help with meal prep.
Why Have A Functional Toddler Kitchen?
Teaching practical life skills is important with the Montessori Method and having a functional toddler kitchen is the perfect way to introduce many practical life skills such as washing hands, pouring water, prepping food, cutting, and more.
Yes, it will get messy at times (and things may get broken) but I think it’s important to teach them these skills early so they can start developing some independence.
On top of independence, they will gain fine motor skills that are important for toddlers.
K will also be going to a Montessori school next month, and the teachers encourage independence with their snacks and meals – so it’s a great learning tool to prepare her for school as well.
How Did I Make This Montessori Style Toddler Kitchen?
This is actually a kid’s “play kitchen” from IKEA, that was converted into a functional toddler kitchen. We got the idea from Montessori In Real Life.
We built the kitchen following the instructions but left off a few key pieces:
- Fake Stove – We used a regular-sized wooden cutting board in place of the battery-operated stove. This is a great space to prep food (pour cereal, cut fruit, etc)
- Fake Sink Faucet – Instead we placed a large glass drink dispenser with a tap that K can use. Because the sink doesn’t drain we have to try and make sure not to fill the jug too full until K has learned that the sink can overfill.
- Top Storage With Fake Microwave – There is supposed to be an entire attachment on the top of the kitchen that had some storage and a fake microwave. We didn’t have a use for the microwave and liked the looks of it better without the top section.
- Plastic Legs – For now we left off the plastic legs to make the kitchen shorter and a better height for K (we kept them in storage to use when she’s taller.
What Activities Can Be Done At The Functional Toddler Kitchen?
Washing Hands – The first activity we introduced to K at her new functional kitchen was washing her hands. She quickly learned how to turn on the water tap and put her hands under the water to wash them off. Afterward, she wipes them dry with the hand towel…and then usually re-washes them a few times!
Filling Her Glass With Drinking Water – The second activity we’ve introduced to K is filling up her mini glass with water to drink from. We started storing a few dishes and glasses in the cupboard, and she will be able to grab her glass out and get her own water. Because she still likes to splash around in the water, we are careful with how full we fill the water dispenser. 🙂
I highly recommend all families who are trying to incorporate the Montessori approach into their home get some sort of functional toddler-sized kitchen set up.
We found that 16 months was a great age to start with K (although some kids may be ready earlier or later). She quickly caught on to how to start and stop the tap, washing both hands, and how to dry them off afterward.
I will update this post when we’ve taught K how to do more in the kitchen!