Montessori Kitchen Work – 3 year old

Our newly turned 3 year old has been on a roll in the kitchen! Thanks to all his Montessori inspired work he did as an early toddler he is now a pro at pouring, transferring and mixing! He always wants to help which has been wonderful because there really is always something to be done whether it be for today or tomorrow. With a little bit of patience and planning Toddler S is the perfect helper in the kitchen. I’m not only able to get my own work done but I have a happy, involved and super motivated three year old. Yes, you read right. Not a “terrible” three-nager but a terrific three year old! Of course, this is all on a good day too! Let’s be honest, sometimes we just need to get things done at an adult rate, especially when you’re on a twin timer aka someone is going to need something VERY soon, so go, go, go!

Our kitchen is where Toddler S does most of his Montessori practical life work since it’s easier for him to participate while I am working too. Also, since the babies are starting to become more and more mobile, it’s safer to keep most of these items out of their reach. Early on we did place some transferring materials on his higher shelves but the babies were able to tug it down a few times, so it was not worth the mess & danger.

Our learning tower is still going strong for Toddler S at age three. He uses it multiple times a day and I’m not even sure how we would get anything done without it. Here is how Toddler S (I’m not even sure he is considered a Toddler anymore, Baby Center sure doesn’t think so) spends his time in the kitchen.

  • Cutting smaller items (slicing olives, dicing bell peppers, onions into smaller cubes)
  • Peeling carrots, potatoes (this is still hard given the inconsistent shapes)
  • Using a pizza cutter to cut dough (for Gujarati Daal Dhokri)
  • Adding ingredients to prepare dough
  • Kneading dough
  • Rolling Indian tortilla (thepla & rotli)
  • Sifting flour
  • Counting and soaking prunes for the babies
  • Measuring, measuring, measuring
  • Remembering recipes – his favorites are thepla, khichdi and bread

Montessori Inspired Kitchen Work for 3 year olds - cutting, mixing, spreading, kneading

From left to right:

  1. Getting his hands dirty as he mixes & kneads dough
  2. Cutting olives with a butter knife
  3. Cutting tortilla using a pizza cutter
  4. Using cookie cutter to make shapes
  5. Mixing batter with a large spoon
  6. Transferring beans from the bag to it’s pantry container
  7. Sifting flour
  8. Spreading butter onto a baking pan
  9. Having fun exploring dough as we add ingredients to it

This is our practical & sensorial work mixed into one! As you can see, we don’t necessarily have a dedicated space for our practical & sensorial Montessori work and that is a-okay!  We love doing what works for our family while keeping in mind the goals of the Montessori approach.These are all simple things that you probably do in the kitchen every day, so why not involve your helpful toddler in these activities. They are VERY capable and wanting to help. We love following Toddler S and giving him the opportunities to engage in our space, work and lifestyle. And as a mom of three, it’s always great to have a helping hand, especially from my three year old!  

Now it’s your turn! How can you engage your toddler in the kitchen?

The next time you’re in the kitchen, find a simple task you don’t mind them taking their time doing. It can get be something that has a potential for getting messy or something a bit more simple. 

  • Is there something they can help you prep for the next day or something you don’t need right away?
    • Save the last few pieces of what you’re cutting for dinner tonight for your toddler to attempt. (Of course use the right safety precautions) 
  • Are you making dough?
    • Give them a little in a bowl to explore
    • Give them a small ball to roll out
    • Give them a completed tortilla, rotli, theplu to butter/ghee
  • Is pasta on the menu?
    • Let them pour the pasta into an empty bowl while the water boils (with a spoon or by hand)
  • Rice, lentils, beans?
    • Pouring/transferring into the right bowl and adding water to soak them is fun
    • Make it a bit more challenging by having them count how many spoonfuls they are transferring

Tell us what you’ve tried or what else we can incorporate into our kitchen!

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