Knot Tying Board

Recently the girls became very interested in P1010620knot tying, which has resulted in ribbon and rope tied from one piece of furniture to another.  Their aunt and Nana both gave the girls scarves this Christmas but the girls seem to think they got bigger pieces of rope.

We love the fact that they are learning to tie knots and the finger dexterity it builds, but we were getting a bit frustrated with them trying to tie everything.  It had gotten a bit out of control when Ed tried to leave the bathroom and they had tied the door shut.

P1010881In order to contain but encourage the tying Ed made these knot tying boards for the girls.  We bought a 2×2 piece of birch 1/2 inch thick cut to a square foot. (To make this project super easy we even had Lowes cut the board for us in fourths for us since we needed to make two and do some other projects).  Ed also sanded the boards and the edges.


We then chose a bunch of differentP1010880 fixtures to put on the boards.  We let the girls help pick out items and tried to do a variety.  This is where the project can get pricey if you aren’t careful.  And then we also picked out different kinds of rope that were a variety of thickness and texture.


P1010885To finish the board, Ed used the Dremel to trim down some of the screws poking through the back.  We then used PlastiDip to seal up the back.  I recommend the liquid form that you paint on or dip into as opposed to the spray on one.  We first used the spray on PlastiDip and it came out in clumps, which is why you can still see some bumpy parts.  But the pure liquid that Ed painted on went on very smoothly.

This project has been a really big hit with the girls. Our rule for the rope is that it stays with the boards which has really helped keep the random knot tying down. And, of course, this is one of those activities we supervise more carefully since they are playing with long pieces of rope. 🙂


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.
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