Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Montessori at Home: Practical Life--Oiling Wood

Wooden Cutting Boards, Utensils Need TLC

An Easy Way a Small Child Can Maintain Wooden Tools at Home

I Saved a Cracked Cutting Board in Order to Show How Bad Drying Out Can Get

Among the gazillion little jobs around the house that you may be doing seasonally, oiling your wooden cutting boards and kitchen utensils ranks up there among some of the safer, easier ones to delegate to young'uns.  If your child has already been introduced to Wood Polishing (a Practical Life work in the Montessori classroom), this work will feel familiar.  But there's an added utility to presenting this work:  family members who've had this lesson may think twice before throwing your wooden spoons and bowls in the dishwasher.  If this becomes a popular work in your home, go out of your way to pick up more wooden items that you might use (confession:  I guess we don't actually use our crepe batter spreader that much, but everything else gets a workout).  When I went about looking for wooden utensils in my kitchen I was surprised how many I had, and actually keep finding more in the drawers! 

Wood bowls, utensils and cutting boards are beautiful to have in the home kitchen, and teaching children how to care for these materials is something that may not occur to you.  If there is a dramatic difference in the condition of the wood before and after oiling, all the better!  So if your wooden objects are already in great shape, keep your eyes peeled the next time you are at an estate sale or thrift shop.  The worse the condition, the more satisfying it will be for the child to restore it.

This can be fun to work on because you need to get into all of those grooves.  Also, many children won't know the name of this tool (it's a citrus reamer), so you can incorporate simple language work into this activity.  Look for reamers that aren't pointy or plan on sanding down the tip in advance.

This oil is food safe, odorless and tasteless.  

"Ouch!  See what can happen when the wood dries out!"


  1. Great idea!! I have all of this too. I bet the kids would love this. I remember polishing silverware was so much fun for me as a kid. Especially the end results.

    Could I use a paper towel or do you think that would be too messy for the kids? Cloth is better? Any particular kind or does it matter?

    1. I'm sure a paper towel would work fine cut into little squares. For the last part of really making it shiny it would be most satisfying to use a soft cloth. We actually sourced some of our fabric from an old robe at Goodwill when we couldn't find the color we wanted at the fabric store! (Our polishing baskets are color coded but you don't need to do that.)

    2. Ooops! I'm sorry--I thought your question was about silver polishing, but it's just the wood oiling. Yes, paper towels would work as long as they don't fall apart while applying and removing the oil. I'm not a paper towel expert, but I've learned from cake decorating that Viva! is good for some things and that Bounty is good for others. Good luck!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.