Pouring, Plucking, and Basting

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.


Want to get more out of these activities?  Set up the bowls and utensils so that children are working from left to right to ready the brain for later reading.  Also, end before things get out of control and your child is bored with the activity.

Laundry Day

Having done a ton of laundry today, I was inspired to share some of our laundry/clothing activities we’ve done lately.  I always have big plans of doing the laundry a load at a time as it accrues, but instead I end up doing a big day of laundry each time.  I’ve started looking for ways to get the girls more involved in the process even if it’s just doing a clothing related activity.


While this might be the most obvious to get the girls involved, I will admit that I was a little skeptical about my little girls folding clothes.  But I thought I would give it a try.  We started very simple with washcloths–luckily we have a lot.  Mia and Zoe love it!

We broke it down into very small steps.  A personal goal right now is to work on slowing down and help the girls focus on what they are doing so when showing them the steps I made sure I moved slowly myself and really focused on the task.  First laying out the washcloth flat, then pinching two corners and bring them over to the other two corners.  It’s funny–Mia preferred folding the top corners to the bottom and Zoe the bottom corners to the top.  Then we pinched two corners again and folded them over to the other two corners.  It took them a few tries but they soon had it down and decided to move on to dishtowels.

Button Practice

Buttons are a great way to increase finger strength, dexterity, and control.  But the girls don’t have many outfits with buttons on them so they haven’t had much practice.  While I’m folding, I’ve laid out on the floor a number of my sweaters with big buttons on them and have had the girls practice button them up and then undoing them.  It might sound silly but they had a blast!

Socks, socks, socks

Matching socks is a great activity and actually helps with the folding.  If I know that the girls will be helping, I make sure a bunch of colored socks are in the load so that they are easy to match.

I also let the girls put on Ed and I’s socks.  Now the girls can put on their socks themselves, although they still sometimes have trouble, especially on their smaller pairs.  I think that practicing with our socks really helped them learn how to do it with their own.

Hats on the Head

I got this activity from Math Play and the girls like it.  We balance hats on our head and practice our math by counting how many we can stack up there.  The book also has a cute little poem to go with it, but we only got through it about once before the silliness of the hats took over.

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