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Ways to involve your toddler in the kitchen


If your 1-year-old is like mine, they LOVE to be involved with cooking (or anything you are doing in the kitchen)! My Chunky Monkey loves to sweep too.  These are aspects that Montessori calls “Practical Life” lessons.  When a child has ways that they can be involved in the daily activities (cooking and cleaning), they develop independence and confidence.   Here’s how they do practical life lessons in a Montessori school.

Here are some ways we have found we can get our 1-year old safely involved in the kitchen.

1. cooking with a toddlerPurchase a learning tower.  They are a bit pricey, but you will use it for years.  Also, to us it is worth a million dollars for how happy it makes our son as he is able to more easily help out in the kitchen.  You can set it anywhere and adjust the height so your child is easily (and safely) able to reach the table or counter.

2.  Get out the salad spinner! Our son has loved “helping” make salad since he was 10 months old.  He pushes the button for the salad (which helps him build important hand muscles that will be needed for writing and drawing), and he takes the lid off on his own.  He also loves to tear the lettuce into small pieces and put them in a bowl I set next to him.  The trick is to have his hands washed and a very clean floor under his work area. 🙂  That way if/when he drops pieces, they can easily be picked up and used.

3.  Look for opportunities for them to help stir.  Our Chunky helping in the kitchenMonkey loves to help stir, and it’s an activity that enhances his arm coordination.  We stand close-by, but encourage him to be as independent as possible.  His smile is usually about the size of a slice of watermelon, as he feels so proud to be helping.  *As a side note: I believe in the Positive Discipline principle that children thrive when they have a sense of significance and belonging.  Learn why we need a sense of belonging here.

I’d love to hear other ways you get little hands involved in the kitchen. Please share below.


Practical life: 1-year-old watering


I’ve decided to start a new trend of sharing “Montessori Monday” blogs. So, here’s the first!

watering plants with kidsThink a 1-year-old is too young to do things like water the plants? Think again.

According to Montessori, this is a perfect age to begin what is called “Practical Life” lessons.  In Montessori, there are 4 main avenues of learning.  They are listed in no particular order, as they are used simultaneously.

The 4 Avenues of learning are:

  1. Practical Life
  2. Sensorial Development
  3. Development of Language
  4. Early Preparation of the Mathematical Mind

According to Age of Montessori, “Practical Life exercises help develop the sense of order, coordination of movement, concentration, and independence.  Children learn a sense of order as well as basic social skills through practical life tasks.  These lessons can be further separated into 4 main categories: care of self, care of the environment, grace and courtesy and refinement of movement.”   Continue Reading

Sensitive Periods – The Cue Tips


sensitive periodsFirst, my connection to Montessori

This morning my son demonstrated what Montessori calls a “Sensitive Period”.  I have been learning about Montessori principles over the past three years, thanks to Age of Montessori (based in my hometown of Bozeman).  I completed their 9-month online teacher training course (but I audited it, since I wasn’t planning to become a certified teacher).  That experience gave me the chance to gain the knowledge and tools of Montessori education, enough to use Montessori in-the-home while I am a SAHM for the first 3-5 years of my son’s life.

Here’s what happened…

So, here is what he did today.  He has been loving taking things out and putting them back into containers. * Well, let’s be honest. He isn’t always as excited about getting all of the pieces back in.  That would be too easy for me, right?;-)

Well, today, he was particularly interested in doing that with the cue tips.  Now, if I wasn’t educated about Montessori’s Sensitive Periods, I would probably have been annoyed and told him he was being naughty for making a mess.

Thankfully, a story from Mary Ellen Maunz was echoing in my head.  One day a little girl was pouring out her mother’s hair pins in the bathroom.  The mother decided that instead of reprimanding her, she would carefully watch to see what happened next.  To her surprise, the young child repeatedly carefully picked up and put each hair pin back into it’s container.  When she was done she poured all the hair pins out and repeated the steps to refill.  This mother understood sensitive periods.

What are Sensitive Periods?

Maria Montessori noticed that children seem to have stages in their development where they are intensely interested in a repetitious activity/behavior and that is a sign that they are in a “sensitive period” to be developing in some way. In this case, my son is in a developmental period where his brain is thirsty for chances to practice emptying and refilling containers.  I’m not sure if it is the coordination it takes to get the items in the container, but something about the activity is extremely satisfying for him, and that means he is meeting an internal developmental need.  The focus he has and the enjoyment on his face, while putting in cue tip after cue tip, shows me that he is in a sensitive period for this type of activity.

How you can help your child in Sensitive Periods

So, I am striving to find as many opportunities as possible to give him items to practice with.  He can do this with the cue tips, the makeup in my morning make-up bag, the blocks in an yogurt tub, etc.  When he has met the internal developmental need to master this task, he won’t be interested anymore.  So, I don’t have to focus on this activity forever.  But, if I can be mindful and attentive enough to my child, I can catch these sensitive periods and try my best to encourage them.

And you can too!

Learn more about Age of Montessori’s Teacher Training Program here.




Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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