Wednesday, 28 November 2012

lucy recommends... a learning tower

'learning towers' are basically step stools with safety rails meant for children. they are typically used in homes where there is a montessori approach to learning. it's a safe way for children to be able to observe, help, experience and play from a higher level like that of an adult's.

there are several makers of 'learning towers'... but they're quite expensive... so i checked around for a diy version and we totally copied this one... i was going to buy the step stool from ikea... but lucky me, i picked it up from the side of the road instead (!)... it was covered in marker, but that was fine since i wanted to paint it anyway. a little bit of sanding, building, painting and voila... lucy has her own learning tower. she uses it daily from the moment we step in the kitchen to get breakfast ready. she likes washing dishes, getting a drink, getting onni a drink, preparing food (well, playing with it and taking bites out of it...), watching us cook and just hanging out at the same level as us (and for some reason she likes climbing up there to watch squirrels). this particular version is perfect for lucy since she is able to climb up and down on her own, but since the height is not adjustable on this one, we may copy this 'little helper tower' diy version later when she is taller.





'mama... don't show the world that i wear doughnut jammies...'

bed head ♥



 long distance call to the ocean...



37 comments:

  1. I like yours better than the example-- the dowel and painting it white makes it look so sharp! Good job, Mama Jenny :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. i've been asked to post all of the measurements of the pieces we've added on to the ikea stool...

    -the four posts are 1.5" x 1.5" x 17" (cut four) - *** but i suggest that you place the stool by your counter to make sure that the height of the tower will not exceed the height of the counter if you use our measurements.

    -we used the same 1.5" x 1.5" wood for the sides as rails in the centre of the tower - 7" long (cut two)

    -the other rails are all 3/4" x 3.5" wood. the side rails on the top measure 9 7/8" (cut two). the back rails measure 15" (cut two).

    -our dowel (5/8" diameter) on the front measures 16 3/8" and goes through all the layers of wood on the ends - *** but i suggest that you only drill holes in the posts (1.5" x 1.5" x 17"), then thread the dowel through to both ends and then attach the side rails which will cover the holes - in this case, your dowel should be 14 7/8" long (cut one)

    please let me know if you have any other questions

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looks so great! And thank you sooo much for the measurements, I'm off to a hardware store right now to grab these! A final (possibly dumb) question - how exactly did you assemble all of this? My husband will attempt but he's not a carpenter so if you have any advice, that would be helpful! Thanks!

      Delete
    2. yay! you'll have a learning tower in no time!

      my husband just used wood screws... but i'm not sure how long they are... i just took a look at the tower and i think he must have used a combination of 1 1/2 screws and 2 1/2 screws... just be sure that once the screw goes through that specific spot, it doesn't poke through the other end! (yes, i know, that may sound obvious...)
      and also, make sure that the screws don't run into each other (on the corner posts, the screws intersect into the same post, so make sure to spread them out so they don't split the wood by going into the exact same spot)
      attach the vertical posts by screwing upward from the step stool (i'm not sure how the step stool comes when you buy it, but if that top step is not attached, just wait to attach it after the posts are in... in our case, the stool came assembled from the side of the road, so mikko had to detach the top step in order to attach the posts).
      i then filled the holes with wood filler, sanded, filled again and sanded one more time...
      then primed the whole thing (wood sucks up a lot of paint) and painted two coats of paint.

      are you good-to-go?
      i'd love to see pictures when you're done!

      Delete
    3. Yes, this helps!! Thanks so much and I will definitely share when we're done :)

      Delete
    4. Hi, I found your post through Pinterest and going to make the tower. Thank you so much for sharing!!
      I'd like to ask only one thing about assembling: do I need to drill holes for the screws?? Or it can work with sharp screws?
      Larissa

      Delete
    5. good question! thanks larissak
      yes! my husband did in fact drill holes prior to screwing... i think our scraps of wood that we ended up using were very hard wood (whatever they are...)

      Delete
    6. Thanks!!
      I'll try to take photos of the process, so it may be helpfull for someone else =)

      Delete
    7. Thank you for posting the lengths! I love this idea, but hadn't found an easy list of the lengths of wood to buy.

      Delete
    8. no problem deanna!

      yeah, i've listed all the lengths - the only other example before mine was from here: http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2012/08/jacks-diy-learning-tower.html

      since then, others have also copied our learning tower.

      however! our step stool was probably an older version (since we found it on the side of the road) - and if you are purchasing a brand new step stool, it may have different measurements (it may be a bit smaller than our stool)... so make sure to check that all the measurements work for YOUR stool :)

      Delete
  3. This is fantastic!!! Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm glad you like it sara! please show me pictures if you make your own learning tower!

      Delete
  4. I think I would rather have a low sink, table and such at their level rather than lifting them to our world

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah- that's another idea and occasionally she does play with water at her level.
      but by using the learning tower, lucy is able to help with real tasks and learn about our real 'world'... i don't see anything wrong with helping little ones to adapt to our 'world' in a way that they are comfortable, safe and happy

      Delete
  5. this is brilliant!
    my 13 month old is climbing everything right now...i wish he was safe when he got up! i mean, you cant really prevent them from climbing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh exactly! so why not encourage them to do so in a safe situation!

      Delete
  6. A learning tower is much less expensive than re-plumbing the kitchen to their height. Water play does happen at their own height, but for curious kiddos who want to 'help' in the kitchen, this is the most amazing idea!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes! and really, i *love* it that my 20 month old is genuinely learning how to help and take part in daily tasks because of her curiosity

      Delete
  7. Hello, I would have wanted to know up to what age your small flea(chip) used it? Thank you very much, very beautiful idea, I love! I plan to make that for my twins (2 years quite soon) they like watching us making thus I think that they should appreciate(estimate):) good day (I sorry, I'm french and my english is very bad!! )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) j'ai compris tout de suite que vous etes francaise a cause de votre traduction 'small flea' lol... 'ta petite puce' ne se dit pas en anglais ;) but i think it's adorable ♥

      lucy avais 18 mois lorsqu'on l'a fait et elle a presque 27 mois et elle encore l'utilise. par contre, elle est peut-etre plus petite que la plupart de ses amis... on n'a pas encore decide si on va faire un autre 'learning tower' plus grand ou bien si lucy sera prete a utiliser un tabouret sens barreau...

      merci d'avoir visite charlotte :)

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Bonjour,

    Je voudrais construire la même learning tower pour ma fille de 16 mois et je me demande comment vous avez fixé les montants sur la chaise Ikéa?

    Merci d'avance pour vos conseils!

    Marie-Pierre

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. salut marie-pierre :)

      'les montants'... ca veut dire 'the steps'??... si oui, ils sont partis de l'escabeau...

      ou bien les poteaux? (this is what i wrote to an earlier reply):

      my husband just used wood screws... but i'm not sure how long they are... i just took a look at the tower and i think he must have used a combination of 1 1/2 screws and 2 1/2 screws... just be sure that once the screw goes through that specific spot, it doesn't poke through the other end! (yes, i know, that may sound obvious...)
      and also, make sure that the screws don't run into each other (on the corner posts, the screws intersect into the same post, so make sure to spread them out so they don't split the wood by going into the exact same spot)
      attach the vertical posts by screwing upward from the step stool (i'm not sure how the step stool comes when you buy it, but if that top step is not attached, just wait to attach it after the posts are in... in our case, the stool came assembled from the side of the road, so mikko had to detach the top step in order to attach the posts).
      i then filled the holes with wood filler, sanded, filled again and sanded one more time...
      then primed the whole thing (wood sucks up a lot of paint) and painted two coats of paint.

      t'as compris l'anglais?
      laissez moi savoir si vous avez besoin d'autre renseignement :)

      Delete
  10. Bonsoir,
    Oui merci beaucoup pour vos explications!! Nous l'avons terminé hier! superbe! Bon ma fille ne veut pas monter dedans (elle ne voit pas l’intérêt pour l'instant)mais j’espère que ça changera bientôt!
    Merci encore
    Marie pierre

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi, Jenny! Guess what, we finally finished our learning tower! Thanks so much for your help!! Gave you all the credit on the measurements, heh. http://whatthevita.com/?p=4525

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh good!! i'm glad it worked out! i think the sunny yellow is adorable!... though i know what you mean, you have to be happy with the colour ;)
      maybe my measurements were slightly off from yours because my stool may be a very old version of it (they always change slightly depending on ikea's manufacturer)... i have no idea how old my stool is since it came from the side of the road...

      Delete
  12. Love the post and found this via What the Vita. I'm off to Ikea tomorrow and HD. I wanted to know though what is the height of your countertop? Floor to counter, I'm at 37.5" and with your measurements, I'm coming up at 36.625". I'm thinking maybe I should cut the posts shorter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi elijah!
      my counters are actually 36" (one of them... lol... the other is higher... thanks old kitchen...) and the tower is shorter than that. but it could be that the stool height has changed a bit over the years (as ikea changes their manufacturers quite often)... since i got my stool on the side of the road, i'm not sure how old it actually is. plus i have those little sticky protective pads under each leg which adds a tiny bit of height.

      i would recommend you do it a tad lower than your total counter height... or then low enough so the posts actually slip right under the overhang lip of the countertop. you basically just don't want the height to exceed the height of your counter.

      Delete
  13. I love this so much! I made this today and my little girl has spent all evening `washing up` . I painted it a lovely raspberry colour and it looks fab even if I do say so myself! Thanks for all the measurements and instructions. X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you're very welcome claire!!
      now you have a new little helper right beside you ;)

      Delete
  14. Hi,

    What a great idea. I am going to try this. One question: is the dowel loose? Meaning it rolls when you touch it or is it glue on each side?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks pascale!
      this dowel is glued on both ends - but in an earlier comment i had recommended that you only drill holes in the posts (1.5" x 1.5" x 17"), then thread the dowel through to both ends and then attach the side rails which will cover the holes on the posts... meaning the dowel would kind of be 'sandwiched' into the posts.

      Delete
    2. Thank you. Got the wood and will try tomorrow.
      What kind of primer did you use? Do I need to? Or just paint directly?

      Delete
    3. yeah you should use a primer that is meant for 'wood'... the same as painting anything of wood. if you just paint directly onto the wood, it'll suck up so much paint you'll have to paint many layers... if you use primer first you can get away with possibly only one layer or paint, maybe more depending on the colour. primer will also help cover any of the knots in the wood that would otherwise come through paint

      Delete
  15. Do you happen to have a "grocery list" of what to ask/look for when I go to the hardware store? Not sure how much/which wood to buy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi eden :)
      please see the second comment :)

      Delete