Montessori: bring on the glass

Along with trying to establish a better rhythm to our weekly goings on, I have also started incoorporating a lot of Montessori methods into our lives. One thing that we have been going for a long time is the mattress on the floor, in a baby proofed room. Actually… since Ginny was born we’e had the set up, but never used it because she slept in out bed the majority of the time.

Ginny’s room at our previous apartment.

Now she sleeps in her own bed, but as mentioned it is just a mattress on the floor, and a gate at the door.

The small reading chair is another example of child sized furniture in our home – it let’s Ginny be more independent.

Something I have started putting together more recently is her own eating area, as well as an activity center.

Montessori focused a lot on child-lead learning, as well as practical learning. Currently the only “activity” on Ginny’s shelf is her place-setting… set… which includes two ceramic dishes, 2 glass cups, a small pitcher of water, and her (metal) flatware.

The cups I found are from the thrift store. But they were a lucky find. Just a few days earlier I had been googling trying to find tempered glass cups. A lot of people recommended Arcoroc, which is made in France. Apparently (though I don’t know this from experience), it is what is used in many restaurants in France because it is nice looking, but durable. Since it is tempered, if it were to be dropped it would simply break into a few pieces, and not shatter. Perfect, really. But… expensive. The next day I was at the thrift store looking through the cups and saw these… for .49 cents each! Ginny has since dropped them (by accident) both from her little table and from the big table, and they have yet to break.

The cups fit nicely in her hand (they are much smaller than a standard sippy cup or bottle), and they have a good weight to them. This is one of the benefits of glass – when I would give Ginny a regular plastic cup she would spill everything on herself within a few seconds. With the glass ones, I guess just because they are heavier, she does not tip them up as far, and she tips them very slowly – so she doesn’t get too much water flowing at once.

Everything is at her level and easily accesible.

The little pitcher is plastic. At times I wish I had picked a glass one, but now that I think about it, since the pitcher sometimes touches the cups it is better that they are different materials. Currently we keep a small amount of water in the pitcher. It is made by tupperware and is meant to be a creamer. I am not in love with it because some times the lid comes off. I’m not sure the best way to fix this, aside from waiting for Ginny to outgrow dropping it.

In any case, spilt water is not a big deal to me, especially since we limit the quantities. In the picture you can see a pink towel hanging up… Ginny is very good about helping wipe up her messes.

The flatware are teaspoons from Ikea. I had yet to find an all metal fork that is her size and well priced, so we have a small fork where the mouthpiece is metal and the handle is plastic.

mid-afternoon snack on Sunday

The plates were a lucky find as well. The bigger plate (which is about 8 inches) was from an antique store, and was purchased to hang up on the wall in my dining room. The smaller one was at the thrift store where I found the cups. When I saw it, at it’s mere 3.5 inches, I had to get it… because it was tiny, cute, and matched the other one. Just a note, since switching to glass plates we have not had a plate thrown on the floor once. It was a common problem before, as she likes to clear the table when she is done.

she is still learning how to use the pitcher, but she is getting to be a pro with the regular cup.

Everything breakable on her tray cost less than $5.00 total. If it breaks, it won’t be a big deal.

I once read that using real, breakable things is how children learn how to respect breakable things – and it made sense in my mind. If I only ever give her plastic things, it feels like I’m saying “you can’t be trusted to hold these other things.”

Another item Ginny uses, though they are not on her tray, are little ramekins. I use them as bowls, and Ginny eats her cottage cheese and oatmeal out of them. These were a wedding gift, but this is the most use they’ve seen since we got them. 🙂



I must note that I don’t have anything against plastic, so why switch? I think she can handle it. She is smart enough to know how to pet the dog gently, smart enough to use the potty, smart enough to clear her plate after dinner, so she is smart enough to know that she needs to be careful with her things. Cutting out plastic flatware made her stop biting the spoon when we fed her, cutting out plastic cups made it easier for her to drink from them, and using glass plates stopped her throwing them on the floor. We still take a plastic sippy cup when we go out, and I wouldn’t give her some one else’s breakable tableware. But at home, they are hers, and she uses them often, and with care.

Do you use a lot of plastic items with your kids (or will you?). Why? Is it because that is what is available, you hadn’t considered the options, or you just don’t want to deal with potential messes?


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