As soon as toddlers are old enough to pull up to a stand, they want to climb the stairs. As soon as they begin to walk, they'll want to carry something in their hands. They crave maximum effort!
We can empower them to participate in the tasks of daily life by giving them jobs -- Can you open this cabinet for me? -- and teaching them how to complete tasks.
We often say lightly that we are "keeping them busy", but it's more than that: we are building their self-confidence.
When we enable them to complete tasks with just the right amount of challenge, they feel empowered. From threading wooden beads on a string to placing silverware in the dishwasher, children thrive when they have the opportunity to practice their skills.
A Learning Tower, a safe stool that elevates toddlers to the level of a kitchen counter, allows us to include them in the kitchen, where they can access a wide variety of practical life skills at the counter.
Practical life activities are a fundamental part of Montessori-style learning. In the kitchen, a learning tower allows toddlers to reach both the counter and the sink.
Got a Learning Tower? Here are some activities to introduce:
- Wash vegetables or fruits with a small colander at the sink
- Stir batters (with a little help sometimes)
- Spread butters, nut butters, and jam with a tiny spreader onto bread or crackers
- Pull the hulls off of strawberries or corn (provide bowls for the resulting separated pieces)
Prepare the environment by providing a decluttered space and the necessary tools.
Almost anything you can do in the kitchen will have a safe step your child can contribute.
- Parboil a carrot or potato to soften it and cut it in half to make one flat side. Next give your child a dull slicer or cleaver and a cutting board and work beside her as you chop the rest of the veggies for dinner.
- Measure ingredients into a measuring cup or spoon and then let your child dump it into a mixture.
- Let your child rinse the silverware while you rinse the dishes.
Even seemingly small contributions to the meal let your child feel quite proud of her ability to share her work with her family and build fine and gross motor strength!
When is a child ready for a Learning Tower?
When your child is standing well, it is a good time to introduce the learning tower. They will love to climb up in it by themselves.
What do Monti Kids families say about Learning Towers?
Favorite brands of learning towers include the one made by Sprout Kids, which is known to be easy to put together, and Guidecraft, which is sold on Amazon.
Many different styles are sold on Etsy. If you have a small kitchen, consider the Sprout Kids model or study the dimensions on Etsy before you purchase. Note that the Guidecraft tower does collapse to take up less space when not in use.
Inviting a toddler to step up to the kitchen counter shows them your trust in their abilities. This builds self-esteem as well as the specific skills you are teaching about food preparation.
- Kitchen Inspiration: Examples from Montessori families who have created kid-sized kitchen spaces
- Practical Life Activities: Things to Try in the Kitchen with Your Toddler
- Best Montessori Toys for Toddlers (Ages 18-22 Months)
Next Steps For Kitchens With Learning Towers
Did you know that Monti Kids has created a Cooking Together Kit that includes ten simple recipe cards for parents to use with their toddlers?
The kit also includes all the tools you need to support your child as you share basic skills like pouring, stirring, whisking, mashing, and spreading.
The recipe cards show the adult what to set up in advance. On the reverse side, the cards show the steps to perform with your child. An included card stand allows you to prop the card up for reference.
Montessori Cooking Together Kitencourages little ones to build skills and confidence in the kitchen as they develop healthy eating habits $100
- Wooden Stand for Recipe Cards
- 10 Innovative Recipe Cards
- Child-Sized Wooden Spoon, Whisk, and Masher
- 3 Bowls for Food Prep, Small Pitcher, and Silicone Cutting Board
- Melon Baller, Spreader, and Tongs
- Egg Slicer
- Wooden Crinkle Cutter