setting a table

there is nothing like the real thing
montessori services place setting
montessori services has a setting the table activity
as pictured above —
to practice how to set a table.

but here is another option
from martha stewart:
table place setting informal
download the pdf [ ], cut it out, and after a demonstration, let them have a go.

here is the formal place setting
that will use all the pieces in martha’s practice activity above,
minus the tea spoon, #7:
formal place setting

  1. salad fork
  2. dinner fork
  3. dinner plate
  4. napkin
  5. dinner knife
  6. dinner/soup spoon
  7. tea spoon
  8. bread plate
  9. butter knife
  10. dessert spoon
  11. dessert fork
  12. water glass

i’d let them try martha’s activity
so, should they go out to a fancy place
and encounter a formal place setting,
they won’t have to ask: why are there so many spoons, knives and forks, mom?

i’m not including all the glass options for alcohol ’cause
neither the children, of course, or i will be drinking that!

here is the informal place setting:
informal place setting

  1. salad fork
  2. dinner fork
  3. dinner plate
  4. napkin
  5. dinner knife
  6. dinner/soup spoon
  7. water glass

however, in the montessori homeschool, i’ll present this type of place setting
because on a daily basis, this is what they’ll see:
basic place setting

once they’ve got it down,
they can take turns setting the table for breakfast or dinner.

here’s a grown-up link from

image credits: i photoshop-ed the black and white place setting images from

8 thoughts on “setting a table

  1. No matter how many times I show them the correct way to set a table, my kids always turn it on end, but of course I don’t mind. If you’re interested I just did a page on how the table is set in France. Basically the same thing, but you might find a few entertaining differences.

  2. Hi, Thanks for the mention of our Table Setting Activity. Of course, anyone can build a similar activity using the dishware and utensils children are already familiar with (and a placemat instead of a tray). The key to getting it to “stick” is a Montessori presentation of the activity. We suggest using the technique described in the book Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook: “The teacher, sitting by the child’s side, performs the necessary movements of the fingers very slowly and deliberately, separating the movements themselves into their different parts, and letting them be seen clearly and minutely.” In the case of table setting, make up TWO of the activity so you can sit next to your child; then he/she can copy your movements. Don’t bother ‘explaining’ – children will pay more attention to what your hands are doing than what you are saying! When they’ve mastered the activity, add extra utensils as suggested above as a variation and/or let children apply their new skill to the family table. Napkin-folding is also a great real-worl activity to apply to table setting later… Have fun home schoolers!

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