Peg Number Boards

I had seen these peg boards both in some Montessori books and on a teaching site and knew that we could make them ourselves for less money and not too much time.  (Of course by “we” I really mean my husband Ed.)  The great thing about the peg boards is that it allows the girls to learn the number symbols and concepts by discovering them on their own.

Supplies: board (1″x6″x6′), golf tees, vinyl numbers, drill, saw, sandpaper, sealant

We decided that the blocks only needed to be an inch high so we got a board that was 1″ and 6″ by 6′.  Ed cut the wood into blocks that were about 5 1/2 by 3 inches and we were able to make 20 blocks.  Next Ed drilled the holes into the bottom and then sanded the blocks down, including softening the edges and corners.

For the numbers, I used my cricut to cut them out of vinyl but you could also purchase a set of numbers to use or paint them on yourself.  Then for the pegs we just used a package of golf tees so that we didn’t have to cut or make any pegs ourselves.

I also covered the blocks in a sealant.  I usually use Mod Podge but this time had another one leftover from a previous project.  My main reason for covering them was to prevent the girls from being able to scratch the numbers off.

The blocks were sitting out on the kitchen table drying when the girls woke up in the morning.  As soon as they saw the blocks, Zoe and Mia climbed into their seats and started playing with them.  They have loved pushing the pegs in and counting as they go.  They are having fun and learning so I would say that these have been a big hit for us.

All told we spent about $10 to make 2 sets of 10 blocks.  Luckily we had most of the supplies already and really only had to purchase the board and golf tees so for us it was far more cost effective to make them ourselves.  And it was all done in an afternoon.  But if you don’t want to make them yourself, here are some sets you could purchase.

Measuring Hands

While talking about our bodies this past week, we did this fun math and science activity, Measuring Hands. We traced the girls hands and used them to make measuring tapes. The goal was to get the girls to start understand concepts such as units of measurements and size comparisons by using something tangible that they could understand like their own hand. I got the idea from activities in the book Science is Simple.

Mia attempting to measure her rocking horse

Ahead of time I traced the girls hands and then used those as templates to make multiple hands out of colored construction paper. I knew I wanted to laminate just the hands to create a strip.  It was a little tricky but I took the 8 1/2 x 11 size laminating pouches and trimmed off the top so that I could connect multiple sheets together.

I taped the sheets together with just a little bit of tape in the middle so that it wouldn’t show up in the strips too much.  And I overlapped the sheets by about 1/2 cm.  To help keep the whole thing together I used a clear glue stick and glued the hands to the bottom laminating sheet.  And sometimes I even used a little glue to keep the top sheets in place.

We made the strips long enough to measure their height and larger items around the house.  I recommend also making a smaller strip of about 3 hands to introduce the concept and measure smaller items like their feet.

Zoe measuring the seat of her rocking horse. This is one time a smaller strip would definitely be useful.

 

Routine Chart

Sometimes it’s hard getting two very excited little girls ready in the morning and evening.  In an attempt to make things more efficient and encourage the girls to be more independent I wanted to set up some sort of chart system.  I spent a lot of time looking online for one to buy (I’ll include a few of the ones I liked but passed on at the bottom in case you’re interested).  But I couldn’t find one I liked.

I wasn’t a big fan of the reward systems on the charts I saw, although some weren’t too bad.  We just didn’t think the girls should be earning a reward for doing the normal daily things that are expected of them like brushing their teeth or picking up their toys.  We also didn’t want the girls to get overly focused on the reward.

After a lot of thinking, I realized that what I was really looking for was more of a routine chart than a chore chart.  I didn’t want a list of chores but a routine for us to move through each morning and evening.  Recently I’ve been reading Positive Discipline for Preschoolers and in it they talked about a routine chart as opposed to a chore chart.  Their suggestion was just a simple chart listing the routine, perhaps with pictures.  That just seemed too boring for us with no way for little ones to keep track of what they had completed.

So after a lot of thought, this is what we came up with.  It’s a train that the girls move through their day.

We chose four tasks that the girls need to complete in the morning to get ready for the day and four to get ready for bed.  I made sure that they were tasks we do every day.  In the morning I have: eat breakfast, get dressed, brush their teeth, and brush their hair. 

For the evening Mia and Zoe need to: clean up their toys, wash up, put on their pajamas, and brush their teeth.  I used clipart to make the activities (my husband drew the train stations and made the trains).  I wanted the girls to be able to identify the task by the picture, not just the words. 

I wanted the chart to move as a circle so that they move one way in the morning and then back to the train house in the evening.  To do this, I then realized that the trains would need to turn around or they would be moving backwards.  I found the easiest way to solve this was just to make two sets of trains that I change out when we use the chart. I added an envelope to the back to hold the extra trains.

 

I thought a long time about how to move the pieces.  I decided to make them magnetic.  Originally I was thinking velcro but I’ve used it before with some file folder games and after a few times it tends to tear off of the paper with the girls pulling on the pieces repeatedly.  I tried to use magnetic paper but it wasn’t strong enough to hold up the train piece through the piece of paper, especially when I laminated the pieces.  Instead, I just used the larger round magnets from Michaels, on the back of the train and for the different stops.  To make it look prettier and to keep the girls from picking at the magnets, we glued the magnetic pieces to the back of the chart.  We did need to add the dots on the track so that the girls could easily see where their trains go.

So how is it working?

Great!  The girls really enjoy moving their train from spot to spot.  It has made our mornings much more efficient and pleasant since I no longer need to nag the girls to finish getting ready.  I just ask them to check their trains and then we see what we need to do next.  Once all the tasks are completed, they either put on their shoes for us to go out or they get to play and then their trains move to the daytime station.

One thing I really like about the chart is that it is also okay if we don’t use it one evening or morning.  With the charts that gave a star for each task completed to earn a reward, I felt like we couldn’t miss a single morning/evening or the girls would be punished for moving along without the use of the routine chart or for having a fun evening out.  But this way the reward is just the moving of the trains.

Another thing I like is that I can put both girls on one chart.  I’m embarrassed to admit that it took looking at charts online for awhile before it dawned on me that I would need two chore charts for the girls.  Duh!  This way I could fit both of them onto one chart.  You could even fit three or maybe more depending on the size.

 

 

If you don’t want to make one yourself, here are some of the ones I was considering…

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