My Kindergarten daughter thrives on structure. Sara Beth likes schoolwork, and she likes having tasks to do. I have noticed--especially in the mornings--that when she doesn't have something constructive to do, she is usually right by my side, competing for my attention. (The more I need to get something done, the harder she is competing!!) Also, if I give her too much time to watch a movie or just play on her own, she can be cranky when it is time to get back on task. Especially in those morning hours before lunch, she truly seems happiest when her time is structured with meaningful activities.
Because of these morning struggles, I knew I needed to find some structured activities to have on-hand when I can't focus my attention on Sara Beth. I decided to gather some materials together to create some learning center boxes--just like they have in many Kindergarten classrooms. I've been searching online for ideas, and have come up with a few that will be helpful to both my Kindergartner, and also my 5th grader.
I already had the materials to create the first one--the Money Learning Center. Since Sara Beth's Homeschool Academy class is working on counting money, this one fits in great. All I needed was an empty egg crate, some loose change, and some cut-up notecards with small amounts written on them. (Note that there are lots of "price tags" for Sara Beth to choose from. She likes being able to choose the amounts herself.)
Already, Sara Beth has gotten this box out several times--on her own--to "play store." How fun that big sister has also gotten involved, and has helped checked her sister's work! I love it!!!
Oh yes, the learning centers must be contained in beautiful see-through organizational boxes. And look--my favorite kind!!--where the lid is permanently attached. (It's the little things that make us OCD girls giddy...)
As I gather the materials for some other learning centers, I will post my progress. Because of the time and expense investment, I will add a few new learning centers at a time. Here are my ideas so far:
Money Center - egg crate, lots of loose change, price tags.
Pattern Center - pattern cards / blocks.
Puzzle Center - find inexpensive 50-100 piece puzzles to rotate in and out.
Listening Center - books on cd, stories on cd--set up the tent and let the girls listen inside!
Highlight Center - Word searches and colored highlighter pens.
Scrapbook Center - Fill the box with 2 inexpensive scrapbooks, lots of pictures of the girls/vacations/family, pretty papers, stickers, markers, scissors, and glue. These scrapbooks will be on-going--the girls can pick up where they left off each time.
Lego Center- Find some small sets (Right now, our girls don't have any Legos. Shame on me!)
Handwriting Center- Print out some large alphabet letters and some 3-letter words (not to be confused with 4-letter words), add in some Wicki Sticks and pipe cleaners to outline letters and words.
Paper Doll Center - Have the girls "act out" stories using the paper dolls. Have my older daughter write out plays for them to perform.
Writing Center - Have a couple of blank "mini books" already created and ready to use, provide materials to make more mini books or create greeting cards--old magazines, scissors, markers, pencils, white card stock paper, stapler.
Measuring Center - Fill a plastic bin with dried beans, add in some plastic measuring cups and spoons, a wide-mouth funnel, and a couple of plastic bowls. (True confession: I was in the store TODAY, standing in front of the dried beans and rice, and I COULD NOT make myself pick up a bag. I was standing there visualizing my future self, bending over and picking up lots of stray beans and rice... I think I'm going to need to take my control freak medication...)
What do you think? I'm new to learning centers--does anyone have suggestions?