I just wanted to share some quick and easy activities to help little ones practice concentration and fine motor skills. We’ve had fun pouring beans, plucking pom poms, and spurting water with a baster. All of these activities were inspired by activities in the book Mommy, Teach Me! by Barbara Curtis. Personally I think that nowadays it’s even more important to help children learn to concentrate since there are so many distractions out there.
To practice pouring I picked up measuring cups with a spout and handle from the dollar store. Following the Montessori set up that Barbara Curtis described, we used a tray for the cups, beans, and bowls. While many people suggest using the trays as a means to focus the activity, I found a very practical benefit in that it captured all the beans when the girls spilled.
After mastering pouring beans, they can move on to pouring rice and then water.
To build finger and hand strength as well as focus, the girls would pluck up pom pom balls with chip clips. You could use tweezers or tongs as well. What I liked about the chip clips was that they were bigger than tweezers but smaller than tongs. And we used pom pom balls because they are colorful but you could use cotton balls just as easily.
First I had the girls put the pom poms into the spaces on a large egg carton (but a small one would work just as well). I was trying to encourage the girls to move one ball at a time since they were eager to move them all as fast as possible. Later we would sort the balls according to color so that they were also practicing their sorting.
Also from the dollar store, we picked up some turkey basters and plastic bowls. Each girl had a baster, a bowl with water, and an empty bowl. I also added a few drops of food coloring to the water to make it more interesting and easier to see in the baster.
Be warned, this can be a very frustrating activity. The girls really liked it but they also had a hard time getting it to work. Basters are kind of counter-intuitive which you don’t notice until you are showing a child how to do it.