Centers help summer months fly by
As the school year comes to an end, parents look for ways to keep their children busy during the summer months. Incorporating fun educational centers that can be used all summer long can prove to be very valuable to parents. The following are some inexpensive ideas to keep your preschoolers busy and learning at the same time.
• Creating a sensory tub is easy using a large plastic rectangular food container. Simply add items such as beans, popcorn kernels, barley, dry bow tie pasta and simple kitchen tools like small plastic spoons, measuring cups and a funnel. While children experiment with manipulating items, they will be mastering skills such as eye-hand coordination and practicing their fine motor skills. Parents should supervise children doing this activity so as to avoid children putting items into their mouth. When your child is done, simply put the plastic lid securely on the tub and put away until the next day.
• Cupcake tins work great as sorting trays. Children can sort by colors, shapes or sizes using items such as a variety of dry beans, buttons, coins, dry pasta, old keys, seeds, jelly beans, craft pom poms, gummy bears, etc. Discuss with your child what attribute they are using to sort their item. Children love to sort!
• Cookie sheets make great individual magnetic boards. You can purchase magnetic letters at the dollar store or Walmart. Children will love to spell out their name and simple words. Have them tell you each letter as they put it on the cookie sheet. Keeping the magnetic letters in a large Ziploc bag makes this a great activity to take with you on a road trip.
• Discovery bottles can be made using empty water bottles. Fill the bottle with uncooked white rice while adding small letters, small plastic animals, small dice, etc. Then close the bottle with the lid and watch the children turn the bottle upside down and on its side to find the hidden floating objects. A larger discovery bottle can be made using an empty two-liter bottle and putting cut up pipe cleaners inside. Then by using a magnetic wand against the side of the bottle, children can move pipe cleaners all around. Children will love this!
• A sink or float tub can be made by using a large plastic bowl. Simply fill the bowl with water and collect items from around the house such as small toys, Legos, blocks, plastic spoons, and other items your child picks out. Talking about whether they think an item will sink or float before actually putting it into the water is a great way to introduce children to predicting.
• A reading center can consist of a plastic tub of your child's favorite books. Putting aside an hour a day for reading is a great way to instill the love and importance of reading in a child. Having a special place to read such as pitching a small tent in the living room or draping a sheet over a few chairs makes reading time even that much more fun. A weekly visit to the library during the summer can also be very exciting for a child.
I hope that these ideas will help you keep your child busy and excited about learning this summer. Thanks for reading! Happy summer!
Cornerstone Preschool, 1098 S. 5th Avenue, offers structured academic programs and care for children through pre-Kindergarten. For more information, call 782-1995.