Spills, crumbs, dirt, oh my!

Jun 28, 2017

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a child encouraged to be independent will be in want of clean up tools.

At home, my girls make their own snacks and prepare their own beverages. Inevitably, glasses will tip over, countertops will be smudged and floors will get dirty. My girls know where they can access the tools they need to make clean up a breeze.

Hurray for the clean-up station


A vital component of any home environment is the tools available for cleanup. Just as we want our children to learn how to perform tasks on their own, we want to equally support them when those tasks go awry.

My years in Montessori have taught me a valuable lesson: independence can be messy!

A child learning to pour their own drink of water must make a few spills before they learn to master the skill.

But guess what?

The spills are important! Through the opportunity to repeat pouring and drinking, the child will self-correct and take the necessary steps needed to refine their coordination and achieve success.

Here’s the best part – children enjoy the cleanup as much as they enjoy the activity itself!

When we provide tools that complement the child’s strength and size, they will readily seek out those tools and put them to use.

What kind of tools will my child need?

  1. Sponges: One of my favorite multi-functional tools! Cut sponges in half or into thirds and have available anywhere your child has access to water. (i.e. the kitchen, at the child’s drinking station (provide link to drinking station blog post here) and near the sinks where your child washes their hands)
  2. Cloths or towels: Another great cleaning item with multiple uses. Take old hand towels and convert them to floor towels to clean big water spills. Old wash cloths can be great table wiping towels.
  3. Dust pan and broom: Crumbs be gone! This handy tool can be found in most stores and comes in a variety of sizes.
  4. Bucket: Big or small, buckets can be used to hold wet laundry, used floor towels or be a reservoir for used water that can later be poured into an outdoor garden.
  5. Spray bottle: Look for travel size spray bottles in the hair care section of most stores. Fill with a solution of vinegar water to clean windows, sticky counters and child sized play tables.

Find a place in your home to serve as a utility storage area. It could be a low rack in the pantry, a bottom cupboard or on a low shelf. As long as your child can easily reach these tools to use and put away, any location will work.

In the comment section below, share with us what your clean up station looks like.

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