Kids naturally learn from watching and imitating. From the very beginning, babies and toddlers try to speak, move and act like the children and adults around them. How many times have you seen a small child pick up a phone and pretend to have a whole conversation? They learn by watching us and by attempting to do these things on their own. Allowing kids to help around the house is a great way to encourage independence, curiosity and creativity. It also provides opportunities for learning and practicing important skills. We recently had the opportunity to try a great learning tool from Little Partners which allows all ages to get more involved.
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Helping Hands in the Kitchen
My daughter loves to work in the kitchen. As soon as I mention cooking or baking, she rushes to the cupboard to get her apron. She’s had an interest in helping in the kitchen since she was old enough to stand. (I actually have a picture of her “helping” with Christmas cookies before she could stand. She was mostly sitting in the high chair and singing to me while I baked). Using a step stool to get her up to the counter often created more challenges than it solved. I was constantly keeping one hand on her and one hand on whatever I was doing. I needed a way to keep her safe while allowing her to help out, so I was thrilled to find the Little Partners Learning Tower!
Being at counter level gives kids a better vantage point to see what is going on around them. It also allows them to participate more, giving them confidence and pride in their ability to help. I was very excited to try the Learning Tower from Little Partners, because it would allow my daughter to be at counter level while we are working, but keep her safe so I don’t have to keep one hand on her at all times. Since she is a very tall toddler, I also appreciate that the floor is adjustable and can grow with her. When we received it, I was pleased to see that the instructions were very straightforward and the pieces were all clearly marked. It turned out to be very easy to put together (even with my little helper trying to do some of it on her own!).
Putting it to Good Use
Once the sides were all together, the floorboard slides in easily. The small holes make it very simple to adjust the floor from one height to the next (a definite plus if you have multiple kids who will be using it!). My daughter had a little trouble understanding how to get into it at first. Eventually she figured it out without a problem. Since she is so tall, she had to take a second look to figure out how to climb in. (Given how tall she will probably be, that’s a skill she will need for the rest of her life though!). I may add some fabric or cushioning to the steps to make it more comfortable for her to climb in.
The first time we used the tower in the kitchen, she helped me create some dyed rice for our sensory bin. The tower made it easy for her to stand at the counter and stay balanced while shaking the tub of rice and dye around. She also really liked that she could finally reach the sink. It was nice to be able to keep her entertained with the faucet and dishes while I cleaned the rest of the counters. Being the dedicated helper that she is, she decided to also test how easy the Learning Tower is to clean. While helping me to do dishes afterward, she dumped a tray full of water on herself and the Tower. It turns out it was very easy to wipe it dry. The finish also makes it easy to clean any marks or smudges.
Encouraging the Imagination
In addition to allowing her to help me in the kitchen more, the Learning Tower can also be used in other fun ways. They sell playhouse kits which allow you to transform your Tower and give kids the freedom to use their imaginations. We had the opportunity to try the Lemonade and Ice Cream Stand kit.
This easy to use slipcover slides right over the top of the Tower and includes ties to allow easy securing. I love that it includes two different stands (one on each end of the tower). It gives her even more ways to use it. She loved climbing in and serving me ice cream, then turning around and selling lemonade out the other window. She even decided to call it her “food truck” and pretended to drive it around serving the family. In the span of one afternoon, it was a lemonade stand, an ice cream stand, a food truck, a fire truck, a reading nook, and a cozy place for her toys to play. And those were just the ideas she said out loud! I love watching her imagination turn it into all sorts of things.
Imaginative play, hands on learning and family time are all important aspects of teaching your kids, and the Learning Tower has given us an opportunity to do all of these! I love that we can now do even more together in the kitchen, and create lots of fun memories cooking and baking side by side. I also love watching her play with the Learning Tower outside the kitchen and letting her imagination run wild. This versatile learning tool is definitely earning a place in our every day learning!
Do your kids enjoy helping with household chores and activities? Do they like being in the middle of the action while you are working in the kitchen?