Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

  A Learning Tower or Kitchen Helper is often recommended to young Montessori families. When my eldest was about eighteen months old I remember wondering it if was worth it – they are such a big purchase. There are two main reasons I decided it was worth it. Safety – step stools, chairs can be used by children to access the kitchen bench. However at eighteen months or even younger I wanted my children to concentrate on what they are doing with their hands, not having to worry about their balance. I wanted to be able to step away from them and get something out of the fridge or off the stove. Only one fall could damage their confidence in the kitchen, damage my confidence as a parent and quite possibly hurt the child. All of these kitchen helpers offer a wide, stable step and supportive sides for the child. The second is comfort – I want my children to love being in the kitchen, everyday, many times a day. The more comfortable they are the better.  After a couple of months of considering and when the time was right I ordered the Little Helper Fun Pod. There are pros and cons of all the kitchen helpers but we have enjoyed the Fun Pod for over five years now and my second son Otis is using it three or four (if not more) times a day. In the families I know the Learning Tower is the most popular however I liked that the Fun Pod was a little smaller. I've listed all of the kitchen helper options that I am aware of below. Some can be purchased, others are DIY.     1. Learning Tower (here in Australia). As I have mentioned this is the most popular kitchen helper and usually the first one recommended to parents, it has a great reputation. It is the only option I am aware of that is currently available in Australia. It is wide enough to hold two small children. It is height adjustable and comes in many different colours. The child can independently get in and out of the tower.  2. Little Helper Fun Pod. This is my personal choice. It is smaller than the Learning Tower. It is very sturdy, height adjustable and I've always felt my children were very safe in it. Children need to be lifted in and out of the Fun Pod (Otis can climb in and out himself however this isn't recommended by the manufacturer). It does get dirty quickly when baking however wipes down easily. Is only suited to hold one child at a time. It's not light however can easily be moved around the kitchen/pushed out of the way. It fits/slides easily under our kitchen bench-top however because of it's feet will not push flush against something like our sink. 3. Step-Up Kitchen Helper.  4. The Kitchen Helper.  5. Kids Kitchen Helper Safety Tower (comprehensive review here). This one is set apart because it can fold up and put away for storage.  6. Kid's Kitchen Helper at 3D Woodworking Plans. 7. The Little Helper Tower at Ana White (DIY). I'm not into DIYs (mine would turn into a mess) however the Ana White site is great as you can see how others have used the plans and have photographed their results. It's fun to see what others have made.  8. My favourite design Woomo Child Montessori Learning Tower (Spain). This is only available in Spain but I think woodworkers could use it as design inspiration.  9. Etsy Classic Style Learning Tower by HeartScoopStudio. 10. Etsy Learning Tower by Modern Woodworker. 11. Children's Kitchen Helper Stand at Home, Naturally (Tutorial).  Montessori en Casa has a fantastic comparison table for some of these kitchen helpers. I have previously listed Ikea hacks for the Bekväm Step Stool and they can be found on this post.  Many of the kitchen helpers have resale value also. Craigslist is a great source of Learning Towers and today I found two on Gumtree in Brisbane.  If I've missed a fantastic kitchen helper please let me know. Please also feel free to leave a review if you have tried any of these kitchen helpers – you might just help another parent!
learning tower kitchen helper 1

Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

My mother-in-law once told me a story about kids in a playground on a busy interstate highway.  At recess, the kids would play outside, running after balls, laughing freely and oblivious to the traffic.  But then one day, the fence around the playground came down and suddenly, the children were very aware of the traffic, and huddled in a circle in the center of the playground. It might be work for me, but whatever I’m up to is my daughter’s playground.  And today, she got a security fence. I could not call this one the kitchen helper because I get help with everything from building and painting furniture, to doing laundry, to hanging pictures.  It’s a helping tower. This one really shouldn’t have taken me a year to design.  In fact when I started working on the design this very afternoon, I had no clue it would be done by that evening.  But the truth is, I’ve been thinking about this design for a very very long time.  how can I make it easy to build?  Lightweight?  Easily adjustable?  Tip resistant?  Cheap?  Conserve materials? I’ve been working on this one for much longer than a few hours.  And I’m so glad.  Because I couldn’t be happier with the design.  It’s easy to build.  It uses standard boards, so no tedious jigsaw cutting of plywood or wasted plywood pieces.  It’s lightweight and more compact than it appears.  It’s inexpensive to build (under $20 category without paint).  But I love most the adjustable platform.  The platform adjust so easily but securely! And . . . after so many of you requested . . . an easy way to make the Little Helper Tower store under beds or in hallways.  The Little Helper Tower can easily fold flat. Like 3″ flat, under bed flat, in the garage flat, in no time flat. And in no time flat, fold open again. The platform keeps the Little Helper Tower from collapsing when in place.  Some notes about making yours fold:  It’s always more sturdy to have a glued and screwed joint than a hinged one.  I highly recommend building yours fixed if you can (mine gets use all day, from making cookies to making forts), but if folding is a must, then use a total of 8 hinge sets (photos show only 4 sets because that’s all I had on hand) and periodically check to make sure hinges are tight.  Also, when you construct the platform, leave just 3/4″ space between the end and the supports to get a super tight fit on the platform.  See the final step for specific instructions on folding. The platform adjusters are actually a ladder to get your youngster to climb into it, with the arch shape cut out above to give a little extra headroom when boarding the helping tower.
learning tower kitchen helper 2

Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

The Original Learning Tower has been carefully designed to provide a secure environment to stimulate a child’s imagination and allow it to blossom. By raising a child up to counter height, it nurtures a child’s innate desire to be independent and to participate alongside his or her parents and siblings, whether it’s to help out with nightly dinner preparations, bake special holiday recipes, or get crafty. For children, the world is a magical and curious place. They learn by mirroring Mommy and Daddy with the ultimate goal of being able “to do it myself.” The Original Learning Tower allows them to feel like an active member of the family, fully engaged in the learning and creative process. A solid wood construction comprised of layers of poplar and birch make the Learning Tower safe, stable, and built to last as little ones grow, complete with a lead-free, non-toxic finish that cleans easily with a damp cloth. The Original Learning Tower’s height is fully adjustable to fit your little one and your home.
learning tower kitchen helper 3

Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

By placing hinges instead of screwing the front and back pieces to the side pieces, you can make the Little Helper Tower fold easily. Just make sure you use plenty of strong hinges, make the platform fit very tight (adjust the inset on the ends to 3/4″ instead of 1″ in step 4, and regularly check to make sure your hinges are not loose. I personally prefer simplicity, and any time you add hinges, it increases the complexity. But for those of you who require storage for the Little Helper Tower (would slide under a bed easily) this mod if done with care can be the solution.
learning tower kitchen helper 4

Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

Step 8 Instructions: Folding Mod By placing hinges instead of screwing the front and back pieces to the side pieces, you can make the Little Helper Tower fold easily. Just make sure you use plenty of strong hinges, make the platform fit very tight (adjust the inset on the ends to 3/4″ instead of 1″ in step 4, and regularly check to make sure your hinges are not loose. I personally prefer simplicity, and any time you add hinges, it increases the complexity. But for those of you who require storage for the Little Helper Tower (would slide under a bed easily) this mod if done with care can be the solution.

Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

Learning Tower Kitchen Helper
Learning Tower Kitchen Helper

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