What a glorious thing it is to have free time! Yesterday was technically my last day at school, but because I made it so. Teachers in our county have workdays through next Monday, but since I’m not going back next year those days of professional development seemed unnecessary, so I took my remaining personal time to end the year a bit early. My kids’ sitter has been kind enough to keep them for these last few days anyway so I can have a little time to myself. I dropped the kids off around 8 and came back to the house, had my coffee and a bowl of cereal before I got to work on the laundry. I watched an episode of my girly binge show while I folded and put away a load. I was meaning to put the next load in the dryer, but it didn’t seem right to run the dryer heating up the whole house for an hour or more when there was so much good sunshine outside. I called up my daddy and had him help me put up a clothesline and hung up the clean towels and sheets. This was all before lunch! I made up some quick mac-n-cheese with peas, picked the garden, then got to work on the massive pile of stuff I brought home from school – sorting and putting away. A storm rolled in on me so I pulled the laundry in and went to get my babies and got started on dinner. An easy throw-together meal of ground venison sauteed with onions and garlic, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese soup, milk and pasta, topped with a little shredded cheese at the end. Not exactly the most healthy but it only cost about $3 to make enough for all four of us plus leftovers so I’ll forgive myself this time!
After all of this I still had about an hour and a half before it was time to start the bedtime routine so I decided to make something of that time. I remembered a little activity I used to distract Punky with when she was small with pipe cleaners and a colander. She loved putting the pipe cleaners through the different sized holes, pulling them through or bending them into different shapes. This was the jumping off point for tonight’s play. I prepped by writing the numbers 1 – 6 on some index cards (because I could only get hold of 6 index cards at the time). I want Punky to start making connections between the quantity, numeral, and word. By that I mean, I want her to start to recognize that the quantity of 3 things can be represented by the numeral “3” or the word “three”. To incorporate these skills I also wrote out the word for each number and drew that number of dots on the cards. I gave a big pile of pony beads to each of the littles in a cheapy aluminum pan, but of course any dish, plate, bowl, or container would do.
I also put out a pile of pipe cleaners. I gave Bay the colander and the cards to Punky. While Bay was threading the beads on the pipe cleaners and poking the pipe cleaners in the colander, I turned the cards face-down and let Punky choose one at random. She then threaded the appropriate number of beads on a pipe cleaner. She was able to check her work by matching up the beads to the dots on the cards. Finally, I had her sort the cards and the corresponding pipe cleaners in order from least to greatest.
It was great to be able to work on so many skills with both kiddos at the same time! Bay got some great fine motor work in and really enjoyed “playing” with Mama and Sissy. I wish I had taken the time to discuss colors with him more while he worked, but it was still time well spent I think. I was quite impressed with how many of the numerals Punky recognized by sight. She does tend to skip over an item when she’s counting, so matching up the dots with the beads helped her be more careful. We also had the opportunity to discuss how we read from left to right so when she was putting the numbers in order we physically placed them starting on the left and moving right. I’m hoping this will help her build some pre-reading skills. All of this took about 15 minutes and didn’t really cost anything. These were all supplies I already had on hand, but if you don’t have a fully-stocked craft closet pony beads, pipe cleaners, a colander, and index cards can all be picked up at your local dollar store.
Easy peasy, super cheapy!
Give it a try with your littles! I’d love to hear how it goes and if you add or tweak anything.