Our Montessori Inspired Kitchen
Camden's kitchen space is finally done! I have been so excited to share it because it is working out even better than I had hoped.
First, I want to say that Montessori kitchen set ups do not require any type of special furniture. A space to work at the child's height and access to child-sized tools can make any kitchen more child friendly. Honestly, I went back and forth about using a pre-made play kitchen and just making something myself from the thrift store or IKEA tables for quite awhile. I eventually decided on the Retro Kitchen by Pottery Barn for two reasons: the stainless steel sink is inset, but is designed to be removed and is easy to empty and also I had too much on my plate to design what I really wanted from scratch. When I saw that this kitchen was on super sale, I went for it. Also, since this is taking up a large corner of our main living area and I wanted it to be beautiful. (Camden chose the artwork by a local artist, we had so much fun making a special trip to pick it out from the market!)
The cupboard with the butcher block top is my own hack of the retro kitchen oven using a butcher block cutting board instead of the play oven surface. This is a functional space for Camden to work, not an area for play. If anyone is interested I can write up a quick tutorial about how I put it together.
The cabinets underneath the butcher block is where all of his cooking utensils and dishes are stored. On the top left side are his cutting board and nylon chef knife, which he uses most frequently. His spatula, whisk, cooking spoons (from this set) and tongs are on the bottom. On the top right side are his plates and bowls and the bottom shelf has a silverware organizer and a bamboo organizer for his cloth napkins.
The butcher block counter is where Camden does most of his meal prep work. Having both of his feet firmly on the floor, instead of in a learning tower, has increased his ability to work independently. Now, if he is making eggs and realizes he needs a whisk, all he has to do is open a cabinet at his feet. He used to have to climb out of his learning tower, go to a cabinet get the whisk and remember to come back and finish the task before he got distracted by something else. Having everything in one space has increased his attention span vastly. Having a truly prepared environment is setting him up for success and has encouraged him to be involved with meal prep more often.
The sink and water source have also given him a huge boost in independence. We have had this water source available to him since he was 15 months, but having a sink right next to it has made a huge difference. Now, he can independently get a drink, wash his hands and wash dishes (and let's be honest, it is a great car washing area too.)
The water source set up was inspired by a truly genius idea from Lindsay in this post at This Merry Montessori and it has been a game changer. We have concrete floors that turn into a major hazard when wet, even when it is only about three drops of water. Using this treated IKEA crate with a bucket inside helps catch spills and eliminates the big dangerous spills when the water is run for too long. Of course, this hasn't eliminated all spills, so there are plenty of opportunities for him to learn how to carefully pour and carry his water.
We store his glasses, tea cups and tea pot under the sink. The bottom shelf has a bucket for him to pour the used water from his sink into the bucket for easy transportation to the bathroom where he can dump it into the toilet or into the real sink. Having a bucket with two handles has made a big difference in his ability to be successful carrying the water across the room. On the exposed shelves on the right side of the cabinet are clean up tools: a dust pan and broom, and a container with a sponge and soap and a container with wash clothes to clean up spills.
I know this will be a highly functional space for years to come. I am so pleased with how this prepared environment has given him such independence. I only wish we had this set up sooner!