This week’s theme for Discover & Explore is Life Skills. I’d love for you to share some of the tips and activities you use to help kids master the skills they need in order to complete common everyday tasks.
Independence may not specifically be thought of as a life skill, but many life skills do help children to be more independent. Throughout our home I try to set up materials that encourage and enable the girls to do tasks independently. Some of these are simply changing the location of items to help the girls use them more independently. We put the girls clothes in low drawers so they are able to dress themselves. Toothbrushes and toothpaste are stored in a low cabinet, so the girls are able to get ready to brush their teeth. Dishes and snack items are stored in accessible cabinets to help the girls get their own snacks and help prepare their meals.
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One of the ways we encourage independent play and creativity is by setting up a creation station for the kids to use when they are doing their own crafts and projects. At the same time they are practicing important life skills like decision making, selecting materials for a purpose, using basic materials and cleaning up after themselves.
Our creation station isn’t anything fancy, but it’s been in use for almost a year and we love it! We started with a 30-drawer storage container similar to this one but with more drawers. Then we filled each of the drawers with basic craft supplies. The container’s permanent home is on top of our paper trays that are full of plain paper, decorative paper, craft foam sheets, and thin cardboard sheets. Next to the container we keep white glue, glue sticks, scissors, tape, and a boxes of crayons, colored pencils and markers.
Throughout the day the girls are free to use the creation station. It seems to be most popular in the early morning and during quiet time, but it’s consistently well used. I also love the that creation station itself is very lightweight so we can pick it up and take to other locations in the house or even outside if the kids want to work in a different location.
So What’s in The Bins?
I try to rotate materials in the bins often as the drawers become empty. We cycle between everyday craft supplies and holiday specific items. The only drawback so far is that sometimes I want to include materials that are too big for the drawers. If that’s the case I just set them in a small basket next to the creation station. Below is a list of some of the materials we’ve used so far, but I encourage you to look around your house and get creative–or even ask your kids what they would like to include!
- small lids from different containers
- the small circles left in a 3-hole punch after you’ve punched holes for other projects
- paper scraps from other projects–we trim small scraps into different shapes to be used for future creations.
- leaves, grass, flower petals, acorns and small twigs collected outdoors
- packaging peanuts
Items You Might Have Around the House
- cotton balls
- cotton swabs
- straws-cut into small pieces
General Craft Supplies
Take a look at the craft materials you already have at home. You’ll probably find a lot of items that would be great for filling the creation stations. Some of our craft supplies include:
- craft sticks in natural wood, colored, jumbo natural wood, and jumbo colored varieties
- skill sticks
- pom poms in a variety of colors and sizes
- googly eyes
- small beads-pony beads, wooden beads, and beads in different shapes
- confetti-have fun collecting confetti for different themes, holidays, and special events
- small pre-inked stamps
- small foam stickers-you can find all sorts of varieties for different themes and holidays
- ribbon scraps
- fabric scraps
- buttons-we have a basic set of craft buttons, but we also save the extra buttons that come with new clothes and find them in sale bins at the craft store often
- pieces of yarn or other string
- glitter glue
- tissue paper squares (or other small shapes)
- chenille stems-folded or trimmed to fit in the drawers
- small sticker sheets (trimmed to fit into the drawers if needed)
- small paper craft punches
What other craft materials would you include?