Self-Service Water Station for Kids: fruit-infusion optional :)

Since it has started warming up, Luke (4) and Lilah (2) have been asking me to give them water to drink all. the. time!  Ordinarily they aren’t big drinkers, usually drinking only at meal and snack times.  When we are out and about, we use Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottles which hold a decent amount, but at home, we use kid-size glasses, and they can polish off a glass of water and want a refill or two within minutes.  I thought it’d be really nice for all of us if we switched to more of a Montessori style, serve-yourself, independent water station system when it came to water.

Montessori-inspired Self-Service Water Station for Kids

water station

So, I started thinking.  We have a water dispenser on the refrigerator, but it is INSIDE the door and higher than their heads, so that wasn’t a great option.  Refilling at the kitchen sink would involve the kids moving our anti-fatigue kitchen mat out of the way, pushing the learning tower over there, and climbing up and down on the learning tower (pretty high) with a glass in their hands.  Also, not the best option.  Leaving a pitcher of water on the table would work great except that any pitcher with enough volume to hold them over for a few hours would be too heavy for them to lift and pour from without making huge messes.

So, yesterday, after some Facebook discussion with my awesome readers, some IM’ing with my dear husband, and a little online research, I forwarded DH a 20%-off Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupon and he came home with water dispenser:

water station

Now, ordinarily I would have wanted a glass dispenser since we try to avoid most plastics in the kitchen, but with L&L pulling on the handle of a contraption which is large, heavy, higher than their heads, and perched on the edge of a table, I figured BPA-free plastic was going to be a safer choice. 🙂

If you’re looking for a smaller or cheaper dispenser, one reader on Facebook said they have BPA-free lemonade jars with spouts in spring colors at Walmart right now for ~$5, so there’s another option. 🙂

Setting Up our Water Station

We washed our new drink dispenser and filled it with water last night before bed to let the kids practice.  I modeled how to fill a cup while the kids watched and then let them practice several times.  We watered our newly potted plants with the water instead of just dumping it out!  Lilah made a few dribbles and spills while filling her cup, but we keep clean-up cloths in baskets within easy reach and she cleaned up her mistakes.

Practicing last night showed me Lilah wasn’t quite tall enough to do it with ease (hence the dribbles!), so this morning I added one of our little stools from Ikea to the setup and that made it perfect!

water station

I put the kids’ drinking glasses on a pull-out shelf in a lower cabinet right beside where we put the water dispenser.  If you’re interested, here are Lilah’s ~3-1/2 oz. glasses.  Here are Luke’s 5-3/4 oz. glasses.  Lilah is just starting to transition to using Luke’s glasses now.  We started both of them with the smaller version first, from around 18 months old.

water station
water station

To make this a little more special, my plan is to sometimes add fresh/frozen fruit to the water.  Today we added organic strawberries because we have TONS of them we put up in the freezer!  I let them defrost in the fridge overnight first.

water station

We also bought some organic lemons and oranges to try later in the week.  It didn’t take long at all for our water to start tasting like the strawberries.  So good and refreshing!  Others on my Facebook page also suggested that cucumbers and pineapples make refreshing fruit-infused water…separately, of course! 🙂

Our particular drink dispenser has a basket for the fruit you want to infuse, but I’m sure you could just throw it in to a normal dispenser loosely and it’d work fine, too.

water station
Why infuse your water?  Well, it’s basically like flavored water that you might buy at the store, but without all the yucky stuff found in the commercial varieties.  It’s also a better option than juice because it’s not loaded with sugar!  It smells great, looks pretty, and is a nice alternative to plain water, because well, sometimes plain water just isn’t what you want.  This might be a good way to get your kids to start drinking more water if they aren’t big fans to start with.

Using the Water Station

We’ve only had our water dispenser set-up for a few hours now, but L&L have already filled their glasses at least 3 times each, with NO spills at all!  I’m so glad we practiced last night!!!

water station water station
water station water station
The “rules” are that L&L are to get a clean cup when they’re thirsty in the morning, fill it up, and then keep their cup at their spot at the kitchen table for the day, reusing it over and over as they become thirsty.  Here’s Lilah getting her first cup of the day:
water station
They are very excited about being able to refill their own cups, and, like Lilah said, “The water really does taste like strawberries!”  Of course, they both like plain water a lot anyway, so the fruit-infusion is just for a little change-up.  Most days we’ll probably just have plain water, or maybe a few lemon slices thrown in.

Here are a few more pics of subsequent water refills:

water station water station
water station water station

I love that this setup is going to give L&L another avenue for independence and fine motor practice!  I’m hoping I’ll get back to drinking more water, too, as I have been on quite the coffee and tea kick lately.  I figure this dispenser will be great for any birthday parties we might host in the future, too!

Have you created a Montessori inspired self-service water station in your home or classroom?


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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Rebekah says:

    I love the Montessori way of having kids independently getting their own drinks, and you made this work well in your home. I need to try infused water with my daughter. She has always hated water, so this might entice her more.

  • Aleacia says:

    We have a water dispenser in the fridge (from Target) best $5 I’ve ever spent! My girls love getting their own water! I’ll have to try infusing it with fruit, that would be a nice surprise for them 🙂

  • What a great idea – we need something like this for the summer months when it eventually starts to warm up in the UK. I love the montessori way of fostering independence in children when they are ready.

  • Stopping by from KBN. What an awesome idea for the little ones!

  • HOW CUTE! We have those Brita Water Containers with a spout in the fridge, Easy enough for even the young and the young at heart to get water! I like the touch with the berries!

  • I have one of these, but unfortunately it is glass. Might think about getting a plastic one. Visiting from KNB.

  • tricia says:

    We created a DIY kids’ snack station- but keeping the cups accessible is a good idea, too- The kids get their own fridge water without issue- but we normally have to punt the cups to them from the cupboards! Super reminder!

  • What a great idea!!! I think I’ll have to go check out Walmart for one.

  • emily kate says:

    This is such a great idea. I love the whole idea of it. Great for instilling independence AND getting your kids to drink lots of water. And the fruit in the water makes it so fun.

  • Shereen says:

    Great idea! Quick question though…what do you do with all the fruit after it’s been soaking in water for the day? Can you use it for something or does it need to be thrown out?

  • Anonymous says:

    just wondering, are those glass cups your kids are using? i would love to get my kids to use cups, but am afraid of them breaking/getting hurt by the glass, so we have bene only using plastic cups now. Thanks for the advice. great blog!!

    • Thank you! Yes, we’ve used glass since they were about 18 months old. I don’t think any have ever been broken, and my oldest will be 5 years old next month. I tried to select appropriately sized, thick walled glass cups for them to be as safe as possible, and I worked with them a lot on how to pick up, set down, and keep the cup away from the edge of the table. I, of course, have strict rules that cups are only used at the table, etc. but I think using the glasses has taught the kids to be careful, which I think is a valuable life skill. Here’s a post I wrote about it earlier: http://www.inlieuofpreschool.com/2011/05/montessori-inspired-drinking-glasses.html and there are links in this post up near the top to the ones that are featured in this post. I think the brand is Duralex — and I love them! It’s definitely a personal choice to make as something *could* potentially happen, but my experience has been a very positive one. 🙂

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