Do you have a little one who's interested in cooking and creating in their own kitchen space? Or perhaps you're familiar with the Montessori method and you want to implement those strategies into your child's next toy. If you'd like to introduce your child to new kitchen activities and inspire them to play creatively, a Montessori play kitchen can be a fun investment.
A Montessori kitchen allows your child to safely and independently create in an environment similar to your home kitchen. These toys do more than provide fake food and plastic utensils, they give children a chance to learn and explore by following the Montessori educational method.
If you're looking to purchase a Montessori play kitchen, you may have lots of questions. What are the benefits of these kitchen sets and how are they different from a regular toy kitchen? Let's take a closer look at these toys and the 5 best Montessori kitchens you can buy.
What is the Montessori Method?
If you're new to the Montessori method of education and lifestyle, you may be wondering how play kitchens fit into the equation. The Montessori method was created by Dr. Maria Montesori, an Italian physician and educator who lived in Rome in the late 1890s. The goal of Montessori education and lifestyle is to focus on giving children a sense of independence and choice.
Many Montessori schools exist around the country and feature mixed-aged classrooms, collaborative play, and hands-on learning. Montessori schools don't create their curriculum based on standardized testing. Instead, teachers and classrooms guide individual students, and children are evaluated on their own level of learning.
Children in Montessori environments become self-directed learners. They don't wait for a parent to push them to learn a new skill. Instead, they learn when they are ready, just like when they learn to walk or crawl. Montessori schools and home environments inspire freedom and creativity.
What is a Montessori Kitchen?
Numerous play kitchens exist in the market today. But is a generic play kitchen the same as a Montessori kitchen? The answer lies in how you use the toy.
Some Montessori homes believe that toy kitchens promote too much imaginative play and not enough real-life experience as a way of learning. In this way, a generic toy kitchen is not part of the Montessori home. However, a toy kitchen fits the Montessori model if the child uses it based on what they've learned from experiencing real-life cooking activities.
Some homes also believe that a toy kitchen should be set up in a way that allows their child to experiment with actual cooking and cleaning activities. When a toy kitchen is used in a functional, practical, real-life way, it better fits the Montessori model.
There is much debate over how a play kitchen best fits the Montessori method, but here's what you need to know if you want to ensure your next purchase matches your Montessori home or school.
Benefits of a Montessori Kitchen
Montessori kitchens should be as realistic and functional as possible. One way you can do this is by setting your child's kitchen up similar to your actual kitchen and the real-life aspects of it. Some benefits of a Montessori kitchen include:
- Children learn how to correctly use functional devices and utensils.
- Utensils and other items are generally made with natural materials.
- Items like cloth napkins and a dishtowel can be purchased or added to the kitchen to make it more realistic.
- Your child can use their play kitchen to create their next snack or help with the family meal.
When Should You Implement a Montessori Kitchen?
Like many things in the Montessori model, there is no specific age that your child needs to reach before they're ready for a play kitchen. As soon as they start to show interest, you can introduce this learning technique to them. Children will show interest at different ages and it's best to let them move at their own pace.
You can also start letting your child watch you cook and prepare meals before you purchase a kitchen for them. If you have a learning tower, your child can start experiencing life in the kitchen with you at a young age and in a safe and secure environment.
What to Look for When Buying a Montessori Kitchen
As mentioned, your goal when purchasing a Montessori kitchen lies in how functional the play space can be. You'll want to be able to make it as realistic as possible to increase creativity and real-life experience. When you begin your search for Montessori play kitchens, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can the play kitchen be used as a semi-functioning or fully-functioning food prep workspace for my child?
- Is the sink able to be hooked up to water?
- What items are included in the play kitchen and what items would I want to add after I purchase?
- Is there storage space for the utensils, tools, and dishes your child will want to use?
- Does this kitchen fit the environment you want to implement in your home?
The 4 Best Montessori Kitchens
Ultimately, how you use your toy kitchen is up to you. But if you're looking to make sure the one you purchase aligns well with the Montessori style of education and promotes self-guided, independent learning, here are 4 of the best Montessori kitchens you can buy.
Ikea Duktig Mini-Kitchen
This modern and realistic toy covers all of the bases when you're looking for a Montessori kitchen. The product and utensils are made from birch and the cooktop lights can be switched on and off to emulate a real-life stovetop. The height on the legs can also be adjusted to 3 different positions, allowing the kitchen to grow with your children. Additionally, the sink is detachable making it easy to add water and clean up afterward. Reviewers say that while it did take some time to put together, this kitchen is good quality and loved by children.
Montessori Wooden Play Kitchen from Etsy
With features like durable wood material and cute paint colors that are water-based and acrylic, this handmade kitchen set is an adorable workstation for kids. This kitchen set is also large enough to accommodate multiple children. The seller adds the 9-piece service set as a gift when you purchase as well. While this kitchen set may cost a little more than others, the reviews indicate that it's easy to assemble and looks beautiful when complete.
KidKraft Little Cook's Work Station Kitchen
This kitchen set has functional features like an oven and cabinets that open and close, a mini cutting board, and knobs that turn and click. Additionally, this set has a removable sink for easy use and cleanup. It also has a style that looks incredibly similar to modern-day real-life kitchens. Constructed from wood, this kitchen is built to last. Reviewers say that the design makes it a beautiful piece that fits their home's style, however, some people also reported that it was challenging to construct.
- Oven and cabinets open and close.
- Includes mini cutting board and knobs that turn and click.
- Sink is detachable
- Beautiful design fits the aesthetic of most homes.
KidKraft Wooden Farm-to-Table Play Kitchen
This unique kitchen allows kids to practice growing their own vegetables before chopping and serving them. The vegetables are kept in planter boxes outside the kitchen window. When they're done “growing,” children can pull them. Then the veggies can be chopped with a wooden knife on the cutting board that's included in the set. Sink and stovetop sensor sounds also bring this item to life, giving kids the experience of cooking in a real kitchen. The glowing reviews stated that this kitchen is durable and long-lasting.
- Kids can "grow" vegetables in planter boxes before chopping and serving them.
- Wooden knife and cutting board included.
- Sink and stovetop sensor sounds depict a real-life kitchen.
Whichever play kitchen you choose to invest in, just know that it'll be a great purchase for your child. Whether you want a specific Montessori kitchen or a generic play kitchen that you can modify on your own, a Montessori kitchen is a great way to help them learn to cook. These kitchens are just the ticket for creative and independent play.
More Montessori Articles
- Where Can You Buy Montessori Toys?
- The 3 Best Montessori Children's Houses for Play
- The 3 Best Montessori Beds for Independence
The image featured at the top of this post is ©The Childhood/Shutterstock.com.