Everyday, Simple Idea #30: Kid’s Kitchen Drawer

I am sharing some of the simple, daily things I do at home as a Mom that come from my occupational therapy background.

Everyday, Simple Idea #30: Kid’s Kitchen Drawerskitchen kid drawer

Independence and responsibility are skills that all young children are working to learn.  Parents often struggle to allow children to learn these skills because it means letting go of some control over daily tasks, and letting children try new skills before they have mastered them.  It may means spills, broken dishes, and a bit of chaos.   It may also take more time and energy at the start.  But, finding ways that children can build independence that are “low risk” for parents is a great way to build skills, and in the long run make a parent’s job easier.

One of the ways I allow my children a chance to build daily skills is by making a spot in my kitchen where my children can reach dishes and food.  We set-up 2 drawers that are close to the floor.  One is filled with kid-sized dishes (plates, bowls, silverware, cups, rags, bibs, etc).  The other one is filled with healthy foods that we use at breakfast or for snacks.

I don’t allow my children to access food on a whim, but instead they get to select foods to go with meals or snacks we are having.  I initially had to teach my children the impulse control to not grab food when it was not allowed, but after some initial teaching, my children were able to learn this impulse control skill.  I found that knowing that food is there was very important (especially to my adoptive daughter), but that both my children benefit from knowing they have to wait until meal or snack time for food.


I love that my preschooler can set the breakfast table for me, help me unload the dishwasher, and grab a rag to clean up her own spills!  My toddler and preschooler love having some control over food choices and what color plate they use with each meal.


  • Ages 2 and up (with adult assistance at first).

How?kitchen kid drawer

  • Allow each child to pick one thing from the drawer to add to breakfast.
  • Ask your child to pick out 2 cups to help set the table.
  • When a child spills, tell them to go get a rag.
  • If a child is complaining about the potatoes touching the carrots, let them get a bowl for the carrots (solve the problem themselves).
  • When your child drops the spoon the floor, they have to go get a new one.
  • I allow my children to play with the dishes.  They enjoy setting up parties and picnics, but then they have to put the dishes away (a great sorting and organization task).
  • Have your child help unload the dishwasher by finding the kid dishes and putting them in the drawer.
  • Challenge your child to set the table with matching dishes (one person gets all purple, the other gets green).
  • Work on food groups, having your child pick one fruit or veggie to go with the meal.
  • Expand on the kitchen drawer by making a shelf on the fridge the “kid shelf” with foods like cheese sticks, small apples and oranges.

Looking for other ideas to build daily living skills:

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net