Montessori playing is a holistic approach to education, focusing on sensory activities and toys to improve and monitor a child’s developmental skills.
These skills include motor skills, hand-eye coordination, color and shape recognition, observational skills, basic life skills and more.
This type of authentic and holistic method is structured cleverly without the child realising that playtime is also a learning experience, as it is not controlled by an adult or educator.
Instead, the adults work alongside the children with minimal interference and instructions.
One of the most popular forms of Montessori toys is a kitchen playset - a smaller and child-friendly version of an actual kitchen.
These toys have all of the basic kitchen necessities, such as a pretend hob, oven, and sink, and work to let the child explore basic life skills without posing a threat.
Kitchens are a popular room in any house, so it is important to let a child feel involved with the adults in their own version.
We have found the 5 best Montessori kitchens, and we have also compiled a handy buyers’ guide and FAQ section at the end.
In a rush?
Our top pick is the Hape My Creative Cookery Club Kids Wooden Play Kitchen, a high quality solid wood kitchen construction with all of the features.
With a hob, oven, sink, storage cupboard, and hooks for utensils, this kitchen is ideal for letting children explore role-play.
Whilst nothing obviously works, there are adjustable features such as a turning tap and knobs for the hob to increase the realistic element.
OUR TOP PICK
This Hape wooden kitchen is an ideal Montessori toy for any child wanting to explore the kitchen without endangering themselves.
Made entirely of a high quality solid wood, this construction features painting to replicate water in the sink, green and yellow color scheme, and the appropriate colors on each food.
The limited color scheme is beneficial for color recognition without being too overwhelming.
This kitchen set features a hob with turning knobs, an oven with an opening door, a cupboard, a sink with a tap, and wooden toy food and utensils.
Above the hob is a backdrop that has several hooks for hanging utensils - a great way to encourage children to tidy up whilst also improving their motor skills.
This means that the necessary accessories already come in the set, which is a good value for money. The assembly is straightforward and all tools are included.
This kitchen is ideal for toddlers who want to replicate their parents in the kitchen.
- Entirely wooden design
- Functions well with turning knobs and opening doors
- Comes with wooden food, utensils, and kitchenware
- Does not come with fridge
This kitchen is one of the most aesthetically pleasing on our list. Whilst a child may not care for how their kitchen looks, this may be a comfortable investment to make in an environment that looks similar.
Also, the white finish means that any colors will be recognised immediately by the child so nothing is too visually overwhelming.
This impressive kitchen set includes a fridge, ice dispenser, store cupboard, hob, oven, sink, shelf and microwave. It also comes with a pot and pan, a glass, cooking utensils and a telephone.
The knobs are even said to make a distinctive clicking sound when turned. You will need to purchase food separately. This construction is made of wood and the paints are non-toxic.
This kitchen construction comes with hooks for utensils, which is ideal for storage as well as motor skills.
This is a sturdy and beautiful kitchen construction for any child who wants to mimic their parent’s actions in the real kitchen.
- Has everything a kitchen has to offer, including a fridge and microwave
- Sturdy and high quality construction
- Non-toxic paint
- Food and other accessories will need to be purchased separately
For those wanting a smaller kitchen set for their children, this is the one for you.
This CUTE STONE product is a kitchen sink and stove all in one, meaning it will not take up as much space as a standing kitchen construction.
This kitchen playset is as realistic as it can get with a water circulation for the tap and light and sound effects to sound like the stove is on.
This means your children can experiment with noises and the texture of water to wash their pretend food and utensils - making it a fully immersive experience.
This playset comes with utensils and accessories such as cups, plates, food, and a drying rack.
The fruits and vegetables are detachable, meaning they can be “cut” by the knife utensils to mimic a cooking experience.
For kids who want to copy their parents, or who want to start their own little cafe, this is an ideal kitchen playset that does not take up too much space.
- Very immersive and realistic
- Circulating water system for the tap, light and sound effects for the hob
- Does not take up much space, can just sit on a table top
- Small size means it’s only suitable for one child
- Make sure battery compartment doesn’t come into contact with the water
This is probably the fanciest kitchen set on our list.
The KidKraft corner kitchen playset is a corner design, featuring a fridge, oven and stove, microwave, sink, storage units, washing machine, and windows (because, obviously).
This is ideal for families with more than one child, as they can both cooperate in the kitchen at the same time.
This kitchen playset is highly realistic to modern kitchens, even with realistic sound and light effects for the stove and ice dispenser.
All of the doors open and close, and there are hanging pegs to hold utensils and kitchenware - great for improving motor skills and organization.
The additional washing machine is a good function for helping children understand that clothes need cleaning.
Whilst this playset does come with a cordless phone, it does not come with extra accessories such as food and kitchenware.
This modern kitchen playset is ideal for children who want to live like little adults for a day.
- Modern and large corner kitchen playset, ideal for more than one child
- The most functional playset on our list
- Realistic sound and light effects
- Does not include extra accessories
This kitchen playset is ideal for little ones who want to start their own little cafe or snack bar.
The construction is made entirely of wood and has the necessary kitchen appliances, such as a stove, sink, and oven.
The real shining feature of this playset are the chalkboards - great for creating an imaginary restaurant or cafe that can change its theme daily (or hourly).
This is great for allowing children to explore their charisma, manners, and imagination in an immersive roleplay.
This is an ideal Montessori activity, as it also encourages adults to act as customers to engage with their child differently.
The stove knobs make clicking sounds, and the paint is all non-toxic. Utensils and food must be purchased separately.
- Cafe design encourages children to roleplay as a chef, waiter, or manager and involves adults as customers
- Does not take up too much space
- Knobs make realistic clicking noise
- Does not include extra accessories such as food or utensils
Best Montessori Kitchen Buying Guide
The Montessori method is a holistic approach to early years education, created by Italian physician Maria Montessori.
An enthusiastic educator with a flair for encouraging children to be independent in their learning, her work is known for focusing on sensory games and activities to develop key skills. These skills include:
- Motor skills
- Hand-eye coordination
- Color and shape recognition
- Patience, sharing, manners and more
- Basic life skills such as dressing
This hands on and creative approach has proved effective in children, as they are encouraged to play these cleverly constructed toys and games to increase their happiness and self-confidence.
This is because they are not controlled directly by their parents or educators, as they are encouraged to explore free movement - as long as they treat the toys with respect and tidy everything away afterwards.
Montessori kitchen benefits
Montessori kitchen playsets are an ideal addition to any home (or classroom). This is because playsets encourage a child to mimic an adult’s actions in a safe environment that is designed for them.
Children are so susceptible to replicating their parent’s movements and actions, especially in the early years.
Kitchens are often the most popular room in a house, so it makes sense that a child would develop a fascination and would want to join their parents in there.
Obviously, this is not always safe for little children, so Montessori kitchen playsets are an ideal alternative to keep the children involved in the cooking process.
Most kitchen playsets are standing sets including an oven, stove and sink. Some also come with a refrigerator, microwave, or even a washing machine.
Of course, these are not necessities, but each feature provides the child with another function. It is important for a child to understand how appliances and kitchenware works - but to an extent.
Playsets with stoves that have clicking knobs and light effects to mimic flames are a great way of immersing the child in a safe environment, whilst allowing the opportunity to learn how to control it properly.
Kitchen playsets offer endless possibilities of imaginative role-play scenarios. A child could be replicating a parent, with a baby doll in one hand and a saucepan in the other.
Another child could be fascinated by chopping food. Another could be a waiter in the making, ready to run their first ever cafe.
This is a popular role-play scenario, as a cafe or restaurant encourages a child to understand manners when interacting with their customers, or parents.
This also encourages parents or siblings to get involved, which is a key part to the Montessori teaching method as it shows children that they are equal to adults in playtime.
It is also really important to encourage boys to get involved to work against any potential stereotypes that could develop in the future.
The social benefits to a kitchen playset are endless, as a parent can work with a child to teach them proper manners in the kitchen, “serving” the food, and “eating” the food with a knife and fork.
This also gives a child the chance to explore jokes, charisma, politeness, and humour as they serve their customers.
Fortunately, most kitchen playsets come with accessories such as kitchenware, utensils, and food.
However, if they do not, here is what we recommend:
- A pot with lid
- A pan
- Baking tray
- Plates, cups, bowls
- Two or more spoons
- A spatula
- Knives and forks
- Chopping knives
- Cakes or sweet treats
The best material for any kitchen playset is wood, as the Montessori method encourages natural textures to help a child feel more comfortable in nature.
Plastic is fine and good for wiping away mess, but the cheaper texture may not be as appealing as wood. Plastic will also bend, scratch, or break over time.
Wood is also more environmentally friendly. We also recommend purchasing toy fruit and vegetables that can be “cut” in half - this is usually achieved by toys that connect and disconnect magnetically or with velcro.
This is great for helping kids to mimic a parent’s actions in the real kitchen, as they can also prepare their own food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are play kitchens Montessori?
Kitchen playsets are a type of Montessori toy, as they allow for a child to play freely whilst gaining all of the skills that Montessori teaching encourages.
Montessori teaching and play is holistic and sensory, and a kitchen playset allows a child to explore various textures and functions, from adjustable stove knobs to opening and closing oven doors.
They are ideal for letting children join in with a kitchen environment and can allow them to replicate an adult in a safe and child-friendly construction.
Not only does this enhance their developmental skills, but it encourages adults and children to play alongside each other without an obvious mediator that may discourage a child during playtime.
Are play kitchens worth it?
Play kitchens are definitely a worthy investment. As with most products, the more expensive playsets have the most features (such as a fridge or washing machine), which aren’t totally necessary.
A child could have just as much fun with a fake sink and stove, because their imaginations can go wild.
Kitchen playsets are great if you have the space, but there are also smaller ones on the market that are a wonderful play item, distraction, and skill builder.
Are Montessori toys the best?
It is important to remember that Montessori toys are not a brand, as Montessori toys are designed to develop skills and encourage independence as the method creator Maria Montessori intended.
In theory, most kids toys are Montessori toys, because they all work to build skills in different ways.
Cuddly toys are probably not defined as Montessori toys as their functions are to comfort children rather than educate, however.
As Montessori toys are designed to educate children in basic life skills, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and emotional skills without them even realizing it, they are very effective and are encouraged in every household.
What age is good for a play kitchen?
Honestly, any child of any age can play with a kitchen playset. They are best suited for toddlers due to the height and functions that younger children may struggle with.
However, children who are learning to walk and move in new ways may find a kitchen playset useful to both play with and balance on.
Toddlers will find kitchen playsets the most enjoyable, as the functions of utensils, cutting food, adjusting stove knobs, putting food in the oven, and tidying up are all basic life skills that they will naturally want to replicate from their parents.
Some older children who are behind on skill building may also find kitchen playsets beneficial for the same reasons.
Do I need to buy a kitchen playset?A kitchen playset, despite the endless advantages, does come with its disadvantages. They are not a totally necessary requirement for a household.
Some playsets can be large, which is difficult for those living in smaller areas. Some parents may find that they can mimic a Montessori kitchen playset in an actual kitchen by getting the child involved under supervision.
This would require a stepping bench for the child to reach the counter and constant supervision from an adult.
A kitchen playset, however, has the added advantage of safety without adult supervision, which the child may benefit from by developing independence.
If a parent can think of other ways to involve a child in the kitchen and develop their skills, then a kitchen playset is not a vital purchase.
However, they are great for allowing children to replicate a parent’s actions in the kitchen in a childsafe environment.