Why your toddler or preschool child should be using glassware

Yes, letting your child use and handle glassware is a recipe for disaster



wait until you hear the reasons on why it is actually one of the best things for them


Yes, glass breaks; but the lessons learned from that broken glass are PRICELESS

In a traditional, authentic Montessori classroom environment, you will find children doing and using all sorts of instruments, tools and materials that are in most people’s eyes, not suited for use by children. Let along young, small preschool aged children.

It is customary to see children in a Montessori environment using items such as glass, knives, shoe wax, dry beans, egg slicers, juicers, carrot peelers, pin pokers and a list of many, many other tools and items that are not normally considered to be child friendly or safe for use by young children.

Why you may ask? It is part of the Montessori principle that children are capable human beings. They are more capable of doing things that adults give them credit for.



“A child in his earliest years, when he is only two or a little more, is capable of tremendous achievements simply through his unconscious power of absorption, though he is himself still immobile. After the age of three, he is able to acquire a great number of concepts through his own efforts in exploring his surroundings. In this period, he lays hold of things through his own activity and assimilates them into his mind.” 

— Maria Montessori, “The Discovery of the Child” (1909)




Glass and little children are a bad mix

Using glass in an environment of preschool aged children is not for the weak at heart.  It can be a recipe for disaster. It can be a clean up nightmare. It can even cause a dangerous situation if a child picks up pieces of broken glass…I get it, glass and preschool aged children is a bad mix.

That can be true if they are not taught and given lessons on how to care for glass items they will use. The key to making this work is all in the lessons given prior to introducing glass into the environment.

If you are optimistic, confident, and detailed in how you teach small children how to take care of the glass being used throughout the classroom, it will not only work, but it is a sight to see!




Ways to incorporate using glassware into your young child’s setting

This is something that I learned and was a part of my Montessori training. It is the job of the teacher to introduce the use of glass to the children and instruct them on it should be used.

Having glass in different areas of the classroom environment will give them much experience with the use of glassware. The more they use it, the more careful they are and the likelihood of items getting broken greatly decreases.

These items can easily be used in your Montessori home school environment, or just as a way to incorporate Montessori principles into your home.



It’s all in the presentation…

You can introduce glassware to your child easily. It is all in the presentation and the guidance you provide. In the presentation, you would use descriptive and explanatory wording when glassware is first introduced.

The use of phrases and words like “this is glass”, “what will happen to glass if you drop it”, “be sure to always hold it with both hands” and “you must be careful when you use this” are good to use.

You would then show them the proper way to use and hold the glassware. This is one of the most important things. Showing them how to properly use a material is key in them learning and implementing your actions. You model and demonstrate the desired behavior, and the children will follow suit.

In my training, it was told to us that, if you do not want the children to sit on the table, then you should not sit on the table. It’s a simple principle, but it can be easy to forget.

In guiding your child with using glassware, you will need to remind them often and correct them if they are not demonstrating proper care of the glassware. Constant reminding and reinforcing of proper use and care of items will lead to your child successfully being able to use glassware, and limit the amount of broken items.

If needed, you may need to reiterate the need to use glass items properly, or the items will be taken away. Reminders and redirecting of the proper use of glass items are necessary, but be sure to follow through on what you say. If a reminder and redirection is ignored, you need to follow through on removing and taking away items for a short amount of time. It is necessary that children learn the importance of safely using materials, no matter what they are made of. It teaches them to take care of things, which will carry over into other parts of their lives as well!





Glass bowls, pitchers, and trays

The very first Montessori classroom that I worked in used glass all throughout the room. I decided early on in my teaching that I would personally use A LOT of glass in different ways throughout my classroom.  I used glass mainly in the Practical Life area; which is the area of the Montessori classroom that incorporates and teaches skills practical to everyday life. In the Practical Life area, I used glass bowls & glass pitchers in various sizes, as well as glass trays in many of the activities.

I would use and find items that would seem interesting to use for the many pouring, scooping, and spooning works for the dry and water activities.

If the initial lesson is given in a way that demonstrates to the children the importance of being careful, taking care of the glass, and using/holding glass properly, the children can be very successful in using glass in their classroom environment.





Glass cups and plates

The children also used glass cups and plates for lunch time. Each child had a name tag label on their glass cups. The small, glass plates they used were perfect size for their small hands, and were pretty durable.

The children would even wash and rinse their glassware at the end of lunch time. Using glassware teaches children to BE CAREFUL…It teaches them to be conscious of what they are doing, to pay close attention to their work, and teaches them to take care of the glass items.  Even the youngest of children in my class were exposed to glass throughout the classroom.

Did things break sometimes?…Of course they did, but when it did, I would use that opportunity to reteach the lesson on being careful with the glass.  We would use that opportunity as a reminder to revisit how to properly hold materials, and use items in the classroom. It actually didn’t happen as often as you would think, but often enough to turn those accidents into teachable lessons on how to use glass properly.

The children always enjoyed having glass items in the classroom; I would find them even reminding their friends about how to hold their glass cup or glass plate with both hands…it was very rewarding to see that the children would take part in the care of their classroom!





What to take from this

In the end, it is important to remember that presentation and reinforcing of the use of glassware is key. Always take into consideration the age, skill set level and developmental level of the child or children that will be using the glassware. The goal is for the child to be successful and learn important skills that can be used in other daily activities.


If you need some ideas or help with setting up an authentic, traditional Montessori home area, send me an email.

I would love to help you incorporate Montessori in your home!


Questions regarding using glass in your environment? Ask them below!


Anitra J.






  1. Pre school is the basic stair of the future so make sure to choose it very sensitively.Choosing a preschool for your little one can be overwhelming and there is no
    “one size fits all.” Make a proper checklist before choosing a pre school…

  2. I love this! We use metal bowls since they seem to break the fastest, but my kids is glass plants and cup from the beginning. The youngest three are 4,5 and 6, but we rarely have breaks.

  3. My youngest attends a Montessori preschool.
    I was surprised that people left negative reviews on google because they use glassware!

  4. We switched to glassware a few years ago and I am so glad we did! With 5 kids under the age of 10, people thought we were crazy, but we’ve had very few broken dishes.

  5. I love this! So many great lessons to be learned. Reuse is a good lesson here, not using throw away items!

  6. I love this! I used to teach preschool and I am now a school director so I am always explaining to parents and teachers that using glass can actually be really successful and help teach valuable skills. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Katie says:

    This is great because it teaches them early and makes for less disasters later! Great post!

  8. Wow, something I had never considered. Thank you for your knowledge.

  9. My 2 year old is SO careful with glass. He understands that it can break, so he handles it very carefully.

  10. Rachel says:

    This makes so much sense. My kids are kinda on the careless side…probably because I’ve only given them cups and things that don’t break! Definitely going to experiment with glass cups.

  11. It’s all in the presentation and the guidance you provide – so true!

  12. Eye-opener for me. Children are definitely more capable of doing things that adults give them credit for but never did I think of this, in this manner. I may be stepping out on faith and trying my luck with glass cups now.

  13. I guess my fear is that the glass is too heavy, but we have started using small ceramic bowls. I’ll have to try and incorporate more glassware and breakables with our daughter so she gets used to handling it carefully.

  14. I let my daughter use glassware and it helps her be careful and mindful of her actions!

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