I’ve sort of put myself on maternity leave from the computer, but I have been reading and communicating on mobile quite a bit, as I’m putting in quite a bit of time pacing with or nursing a nearly asleep newborn. This has meant lots of conversing in various Montessori groups. Yesterday, someone raised a question about silverware in the group: Bringing up Montessori Infants and Toddlers and many of us chimed in to make suggestions.
I have said before that we Montessori guides often become curators of beautiful collections of small objects, delighting over bits and pieces discovered for use in the classroom. Some of us take this role more seriously than others. In honesty, though, I can frame this any way I like, but a couple of decades from now one of my children might be putting me on the modern-day equivalent of hoarders after they open a cabinet in my house and find themselves buried under a pile of miniature pitchers, tiny bowls of various kinds and, well, cutlery. Reading the comment thread about silverware yesterday, I realized I could put my collection to good use, as we own all of the various options that were suggested. I snapped a side-by-side comparison picture for those considering their options and a few moms found this helpful, so I thought I’d grab some better photos and drop them here in the blogosphere for easy reference.
The most popular options for silverware seem to be from Ikea, World Market, and Constructive Playthings. All are just about equally useful, but one big difference is their size, which is the main thing I aimed to show with this photo.
I also included the little bamboo silverware I like to keep in the diaper bag for eating out or picnicking, when easy to handle silverware isn’t available. The spoon/fork combo at the very far left was purchased by my mother-in-law, but it’s the same brand (Bambu) as the second, which I bought at a local shop (Salt and Sundry at Union Market for DC area folks). I noticed while looking for a link to those, too, that the same company makes spoon/fork sets. These little sporks have definitely come in handy for when we’re out. We have had the light-colored, taller version for about a year and a half and they are not used terribly often. They’re definitely showing a bit of wear, and the tines of the fork side are not as pointy as they were at first. To be fair, though, I’m all about convenience at this stage in our lives, so nearly everything we own that’s smaller than the appliances goes into the dishwasher or the washing machine. I’m sure these would be in more perfect condition if I were in the habit of hand washing them…and if they didn’t get knocked around in the diaper bag
The metal piece at far left in each of these photos is part of the Ikea Fabler set, which has all three pieces for $4.99. We have had these for about two years and they’re great. The stainless steel is thick enough that there has been no bending or warping of any kind. I really like the size for Annabelle, who is four now. She refers to these as “big kid forks/spoons” and will ask for the adult size utensils instead if these ones aren’t clean. They do have scratches if you look closely, but we use them for eating, not display, so that doesn’t really bother me. I avoid Ikea as much as possible, as it sends me into sensory overload pretty quickly, but I’ve been meaning to get over there and grab another set or two of these so that Annabelle can use them at each meal.
The funky-looking pieces in the middle are cocktail silverware from World Market. I have one setting each in a few different designs (my favorite looks like this treble clef set), but I learned from the conversation yesterday that they also have sets of twelve forks that look alike, which might be nice for a classroom or a household with multiple children. These have held up incredibly well to frequent use. The ones pictured I may have purchased for my classroom as much as six years ago, but I know I have had them at least four years. If you look closely, you might see that the tip of the spoon is damaged, but that’s because I accidentally turned on the garbage disposal when it had fallen in. That’s the one challenge with tiny silverware – it’s easy to lose that way!
On the far right is the stainless steel silverware sold as a set with service for twelve and a wooden tray by Constructive Playthings. The big benefit of this set for me is the large number of pieces and the perfectly sized sorting tray. Those two things make this an ideal set for the classroom, which is what I bought ours for, and I don’t regret it. For a family with multiple young children, this could be great, too. Otherwise, I’m not sure these are the best value out there. They are fantastic at first, but feel a bit small next to a dinner plate come the preschool years. Some of mine have also gotten a bit spotty and discolored. See above, of course, about my cleaning habits (everything in the dishwasher all the time). It’s likely that with more careful washing and regular polishing, they would look lovely, but I’m not looking for silverware I need special care instructions for. I could have gotten a much nicer photo if I had done some polishing first, but I wanted to show you what they look like straight from the dishwasher.
Of course there are many other options out there. This is just a comparison of the reasonably-priced choices that seem to be most popular with Montessori families. There are beautiful silver sets, and lovely cocktail silverware that corresponds with full-sized pieces, which would allow the whole family table to coordinate. I’d love to see or hear what you use!
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