*UPDATE: I’m honored to say that this post is part of the BEST OF 2015 in Education, Parenting and Crafting! Read to the bottom for more BEST of 2015 inspiration*
I LOVE me some center time! Seriously though…it encourages writing, ABC practice, numbers and more. The kids don’t realize they are learning because it’s just so much fun!
Here are pictures of some thrifty, DIY center activities that I use at home with my kiddos. I did most of my shopping at the dollar store!
ABC Activity Mat
- Dollar store plastic shower curtain
- Dollar store manipulatives (or random objects you already have around the house)
Math Manipulatives Center
- Plastic compartment tray (dollar store)
- Various small objects/manipulatives (dollar store)
- Numbered dice and dotted dice
- Plastic storage containers with lids (big box store and discount stores)
Choose age appropriate items for this activity as some could be a choking hazard for little ones. I think its important to mention that I have been collecting these items for years. Please don’t feel that you need 20 choices for your child. Start with just a few manipulatives that might interest your kiddo.
3 Ways to Play:
Roll 2 dice and then make the number sentence using the manipulatives to find your answer. A younger child might roll 1 die and then count manipulatives to match the number. My four-year old loves to play by rolling 1 die and then placing that many objects back into their containers and then repeat until there are none remaining.
Card/Letter Writing Center
We love to send cards and letters to loved ones! I like it since it encourages writing and letter practice!
- Crayons, markers, pens, colored pencils
- Various sizes and colors of paper
- Fancy stationary (bargain bin at Target)
Fine motor skills practice
My kids have loved doing this activity for years and now that they’re older, they still enjoy it!
All of these items have been collected from dollar store and discount stores.
- Plastic containers in various shapes and sizes
- Wood spoons/forks
- Plastic spoons/tongs
- Containers with compartments for sorting
- Plastic funnels
- Manipulatives for play
- Cotton balls
- Pipe cleaners
- Plastic bowls with round holes cut into the lid (make sure that the lids are soft, pliable plastic so that little fingers don’t get cut on sharp edges when you cut holes in the top)
Getting to work with cotton balls and spoons
The plastic tongs are everyone’s favorite!
Pushing the pipe cleaners through the funnel
Here he is doing the same activity at 17 months old!
Putting cotton balls in and out of containers. He used to LOVE this activity as a toddler!
Flash Card Making Center
- Colored pencils, markers, pens
- Index cards
Flash Card Making Center (Lid closed, and word/math lists)
Word Lists and Math Facts lists. My kids LOVE making flash cards and quizzing one another.
Center time has always been one of the most enjoyable activities in our household and the dollar store is my most reliable resource for making it happen!
I hope you’ve found a thing or two here to add some pizzazz to your centers!