Works For Me Wednesday

Works For Me WednesdayThis is the last time Works For Me Wednesday will be linked to the original site, Rocks In My Dryer, so please head over there and check it out.

Last night, I was getting ready to make dinner and I wanted something to keep my girls busy besides just turning on the tube.  So, I asked them, “Hey girls, would you like to do Centers?”


So, I made them go into my bedroom and shut the door, while I thought about 3 Centers I could set up for them to do.  (Centers have to be a surprise.)  I’m a former elementary school teacher and currently teach 3-year olds at my Church’s co-op.  Without a doubt, all my students (past & present) favorite part of the day is Centers, when they get a chance to go to a particular location, sit down with a particular task, and work on their own.

So, I took a quick look around the house and thought about skills I’d like them to work on.  When I’m setting up Centers, I usually try to have something art related, something solely for pretending, and something skills (cutting, gluing, counting, sorting, etc.) related.  Of course, most of the time a Center will encompass several of those. 

I quickly spent about 5 minutes setting up a few things in different rooms.  In my 2-year old’s room, I created a Bear Center.  It had little colored bears that my youngest daughter likes to sort & my oldest likes to make patterns out of, and it had 2 little bear activities for them to dress bears in different clothes.  One was magnetic and one had stuffed bears.


In my 5-year old’s room, I set up a Cutting Center.  In here, they were going to practice using scissors & glue sticks by finding things in a magazine they liked, cutting them out, and gluing the things onto a piece of paper (simple, I know but they love it.).  In addition to helping them learn to cut better, it also helps me learn more about them, because I always ask them questions about what they cut out.


Finally, a corner of our family room became the Kitchen Center.  I put 2 play kitchens in that corner, brought out a little table & chairs, and set some paper & pens on the table.  This center was designed for them to pretend.  They could pretend to be cooks, waitresses, or even customers.


Once the centers were set up, I went into my bedroom and asked them to decided together which room they wanted to go to out to the 3 rooms.  I do not tell them what’s in the rooms, and they aren’t allowed to look.  The surprise is half the fun.  They chose Emily’s room, which had the bears.  So, I led them to that Center & explained to them what was in there, and why.

february-2009-204.jpgOne of the best things about Centers is that it is an on-your-own activity.  Mommy & Daddy are not involved at all.  So, after I showed them the bears, I headed to the kitchen to work on dinner.  After about 10 – 15 minutes I will go in and tell them it’s time to switch.  They were having so much fun in the Bear Center, they asked to play for another 5 minutes.

It is so worth the five minutes of preparation to get my two girls to play together & learn for forty-five minutes, all by themselves.  We didn’t turn the TV on all night.

Here’s another post I did on Centers if you’re interested.

Visit the new home of Works For Me Wednesday, We Are THAT Family.

Teaching Grouping

When I taught first grade, a part of our math curriculum was teaching kids to think in groups when solving math problems.  I spent a lot of time using dice to get them to know how many were on the die without counting them.  This is important for kids to grasp at a young age and will make higher math that much easier.  Once they can think in groups counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s etc. will make more sense.  Adding numbers will be easier too and they won’t rely on their fingers for counting.  There are a couple of fun easy ways to practice this with them. 

The first is take a die and have them roll it.  Have them tell you how many dots there are without counting.  Once they get the hang of it add another die.  Then they can roll both and add them up.  Let’s say they roll a 4 and a 3, have them start with the 4 and count up 5,6,7.  Once this starts to come naturally to them it will replace them using their fingers to add.  You could turn it into a game by thinking of a number to reach, say 20.  You both keep rolling the dice and adding until the first person reaches 20. 

Another way to get your child to start thinking in groups is a favorite of my daughters.  I draw on a piece of paper dots different ways.  I might draw 3 on the top row and 2 on the bottom.  I give her paper and show her the dots for about 3 -5 seconds.  I take it away and she has to draw what my dots looked like and tell me how many there were.  Have your child explain how they came up with their total.  You will be amazed how there minds work.  My daughter did this problem and she told me that there were 5 because she saw 4 dots that looked like a box (2 on top and 2 on the bottom) and then there was one more so that made 5.  She is learning to group them instead of counting them individually. 

Turkey Activities

My girls loved making this turkey today.  All you need is brown construction paper, a coffee filter, and some washable markers. 

  1. Cut out a turkey shape from brown construction paper.  I traced one that I found online.
  2. Have your child color a coffee filter with washable markers.  It really doesn’t matter how they color it but it will look best if they color most of it and don’t leave many white spots.
  3. Have them spray the coffee filter with water.  This will allow all the colors to run together.
  4. While waiting for the filter to dry, I had my girls draw a face on the turkey pattern that I cut out.  I let Ashlyn cut her own out. 
  5. Once the filter is dry, fold it in half and glue or staple it to the back of the turkey for the feathers.  They turn out really cute!


I did a different activity with Emily and I was able to use the same turkey pattern.  This time I wrote her name on the front of the turkey and colored it.  Then I cut pieces of different color construction paper and wrote a letter on each piece that is in her name.  These are the turkey’s feather.  Now she has a game to practice how to spell her name.  I mix up the feathers and she has to put them back together in the correct order.

name turkey

Things Learned this Summer

Our family has had an amazing summer.  We did many things together and the girls learned so much.  I feel like both have grown physically and have become more independent.  As their mom, I am very proud of them but also sad.  My little girls are growing up!!!  Maybe it’s time for another one…

 Ashlyn, (my cautious 4 year old) has come out of her shell and become much more daring.  A couple months before summer began we (Chris) taught her how to ride her bike without training wheels.  Now we go on 4 and 5 mile rides on different trails in our area.  She learned how to swim two summers ago but now jumps off the diving board, and dives down to the bottom of 8 feet deep pools.  What happened to my careful, non risk taker?!?! 

The accomplishment that has made my life so much easier is… she learned how to tie her shoes!!!  I’m going to go ahead and take credit for teaching her that one. 

Now let’s talk about Emily, (my fearless 2 year old).  She is now drinking from regular cups, opening doors (that lead outside), and  drum roll please… going to the bathroom on the “big girl potty.”  This one we just started about two weeks ago but she is doing great!  She is talking non stop and loves to ask “Why Mommy?”  She learned to ride a 3 wheeled scooter and ride on Daddy’s surfboard.  Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that she can count to 6 in Spanish thanks to Dora.

It’s crazy to think that just 2 months ago most of these things were unable to be done by them.  They learn things so quickly.  They really are like little sponges.

I’m Back!

After 3 weeks away at a Young Life camp in North Georgia (I hope to post more on this later) and almost a week of being sick, I am finally back to posting on the blog.  I know my 4 readers missed me.

We spent the day taking the girls to the zoo, painting a bird feeder, and hanging out at home.  After dinner the girls wanted to play outside with their new polka dotted chalk.  It only took a couple of minutes before Emily was bored with the chalk so I made up a game to keep her interest.  I wrote a letter with the chalk and asked her what letter it was.  I continued this with several letters and we talked about what sounds each made.  Then I asked her to jump on a certain letter.  She loved it!  I would change it up and say, “Can you jump over the A?”  “Can you step on the R?”  We did this for about 15 minutes until Ashlyn wanted to play.

I thought letters weren’t challenging enough for her so I made a hopscotch board.  Instead of using numbers I wrote some of her sight words in the boxes.  She had to throw a stick and read the word it landed on, then hop to it.  I kept thinking of other things you could use.  Shapes, color words, numbers that aren’t in order, and sight words were some examples I thought of.  It was a fun way to spend the evening without them even realizing they were learning.