Practical Life in the Kitchen

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I'm always in awe of all of those cute practical life kitchen sets that are in Montessori classrooms.  They're the perfect height for kiddos.  The sink is equipped with running water.  Practical Life activities in the kitchen are some of my very favorites.

As a homeschooling family, we don't have the funds or the room to put in our own Montessori kitchen.  Last year we used dish basins, on trays, but they were too heavy for the kiddos to move around and made a mess in our carpeted classroom.  As I was watching a fabulous Montessori video last week, I was inspired!

This is our new Montessori Kitchen!
Actually it's my kitchen, but with several accommodations made for our kiddos.  This project cost $0.  It is working so well!  I'm loving it!  Please forgive the mismatched paint and flooring in our kitchen. This is the one room in our home that we haven't completely redone.  (The house was built in the 1800s.)
These are our Kitchen Montessori Shelves!  All I did was remove the doors on our lower cabinets and viola!  Full access for the kiddos.  All of the plates, bowls, cups, and utensils, are stored there.  The kiddos' lunch boxes, basin, and mixing bowl are also kept in this location for easy access.  Located on our exterior shelves are measuring cups and spoons, a basket of kid sized kitchen tools & cutting board, and a child size hand sweep with tray for use after meals.  In the drawer above the lunch boxes, folded napkins are stored.

About three years ago, I said goodbye to all of our extra plates, bowls, and cups.  Each person in the house has a color coded matching set.  This has cut down tremendously on dish washing tasks.  (We don't have a dishwasher.)
Before each meal, I select a kiddo to come help me in the kitchen.  A place setting template/control is provided if they need it, when setting the table.  Food is placed on the counter above their shelves, with necessary tools used for serving. The kiddo who sets the table serves the food.  This has provided great practice scooping, using tongs, spooning, and transferring food.  Drinks are poured into cups as well.  At times there are other tasks the kiddos can help with such as chopping fruits and vegetables for salads, etc.
Once meals are finished, the kiddos move on to their next task of cleaning up.  One sink is filled with soap and water, the other just water for rinsing.  A dish drainer is provided, as well as a dish towel for drying. Missing from the photo is a garbage can for cleaning off dishes before putting them in the soapy water.  The kiddos wash, rinse, and dry their own dish, bowl, cup, and utensils.  Once complete, they put them away.  This process has run more smoothly than I could have ever anticipated.  All of the kiddos are doing such a great job!  They seem to enjoy it too.  I love that they're each responsible for their own things.  If they don't do their individual job, it only effects them, and no one else.  They quickly learn they like to eat from clean dishes.

Once dishes are taken care of, the kiddos use their washcloth to wipe down their chair and spot at the table.  They finish their kitchen tasks by sweeping up any crumbs and fallen food under their chair.  All of them do this so well after only a year of Montessori in the classroom!
The last change I made to my kitchen was rearranging the contents of my refrigerator so the kiddos had full and easy access to the things they needed for snacks and meal prep.  They love getting their own snacks and things we need for meals.  Any other snack foods are located in the fruit bowl on one of the counters in the kitchen.  I try to stay away from crackers, fruit snacks etc.

I never realized how easy it would be to change my kitchen into a place where the kiddos were helping and not making things more difficult during meal prep and clean up.  All of us are enjoying the new arrangement!  I can't wait to make alterations to other rooms in our home!

16 comments:

  1. Wow, what great changes to your kitchen, and what great corresponding changes to your home/family life! How wonderful that your kids are able to be so responsible in the kitchen due in part to the changes you have made (and all the work you have doubtless put in as well!).

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    1. Thank you Katie! It has been fabulous and it keeps going!

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing your tips and experiences and of course for linking up to the Monday Parenting Pin It Party. I'm very much a fan of teaching kids to take on responsibilities from an early age, so this post really resonated with me and now I'm off to have a look at my kitchen ;)

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Carolin! I hope your kitchen adventures go well. :)

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  3. That is a great idea. I too always admire the Montessori kitchens. I do allow the children to help me in the kitchen so that they can learn some practical life skills I really like your idea of opening up the kitchen to them so that they may really be able to help. I think I might give this a try.

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    1. I wish you the best of luck Natasha. Montessori is just so fabulous!

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  4. Love this so much! Great job rearanging your cabinets! It´s so clever of you to take off the doors :) My son loves to get his own plates, bowls, etc, especially if he sees someone else snacking on something he likes - he'll just run to the cabinet and grab a plate for himself or serve himself some water. The only thing I don´t do is leave snacks accesible to him. Bananas tend to be our go to snack and the kid would eat all of them in one go then, or would refuse to eat anything else the rest of the day :)

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    1. Thank you! We have a banana lover in this house too. Before Sunshine's allergy diagnoses, she would eat at least 3 bananas at breakfast. It was crazy.

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  5. What a wonderful way to transform your kitchen, this is such an inspiring story.

    Jonathan

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  6. What a great transformation and I love that it didn't cost you any money!
    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

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  7. This is just fantastic Renae! We have always favored our practical life activities practically in the kitchen or washroom. It just worked so well for us this way. Kudos!!

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  8. Hi Renae,

    I'm doing a roundup post on Montessori kitchens in January. May I have permission to feature your photo on my post, with credit to your blog and a link back to your direct post?

    Thanks, Elaine (PlantingPeas.com)

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    1. You are more than welcome to use a photo from this post with a link back to the specific post on my blog! Thank you for thinking of me!

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