Play Centers

It’s tough to keep our little owls busy. We are their main source of entertainment. As my son approaches toddlerhood and shows some independence, I like to create centers for him. Here are some center ideas you can easily create at home.

Reading center: Pick a spot in your home, maybe your child’s room or the living room and create a literacy nook for your child. Have some of their favorite books out. Once they are done reading, give them a cookie sheet like the one below with magnetic letters. Write the letters on the cookie sheet and have your child match it. Start with a few letters at a time.



Water Table Center: I use this center loosely. We don’t have a water table, I put my son in his high chair and give him different size cups. I fill one with water and his job is to fill the other cups with water. I might give him small objects so he can put them in the cups. He can see what sinks and what floats. It’s messy, but keeps him entertained. He loves it! bath time is also a great for children to play with water. Consider bring different sized cups and plastic bottles. My son loves filling one into the other.

Sensory Book Center: I made this same book with my son. I went to Michael’s and bought all sorts of materials. I bought jagged ribbon, buttons, stickers, material, etc. We used Elmer’s glue to put the materials in the book.



Cooking Center: My son really enjoys watching me cook, so I try to include him in the process. We recently made pizza. He loved it! We spread tomato sauce, added mushrooms, basil, small turkey balls (I took care of the meat), and cheese.

Lucas Pizza.JPG

I suggest timing each center or letting your child play at the center until he/she loses interest. My experience has been that he doesn’t stay in one place for more than 15 min and that is pushing it. You can also spread these centers out throughout the day or week. . I like using the cooking center for prepping dinner.  I also suggest getting your kids involved by making signs for each center the day before (if possible). Have them write it on index cards and decorate it. They next day, have each card next to the center and explain each center to them. My son loves this. It take practice, so don’t get discouraged if it’s a disaster the first time around.
Happy Center Time!

This post is dedicated to my buddy Cynthia. You’re such a creative mom, thanks for inspiring me!




Phonics and Reading Comprehension: How do they connect?

I repeatedly hear from parents, “my child can read, but they don’t understand what they are reading.” It’s important to take a step back and think about the 5 components of reading and how do they tie in to reading comprehension.  In order for children to have strong verbal and written comprehension skills one must go back to the basics. There are 5  to reading components:

  • Phonemic Awareness– students have to be able to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds. They have to be able to segment (d-o-g) and blend sounds (dog)
  • Phonics– this is learned through explicit teaching (learning the 6 syllable types), children must understand letter-sound relationships, practice and review it, in order to internalize it.
  • Fluency– this is an area that doesn’t get attention. A child must read with expression, phrasing, and at a good rate.
  • Vocabulary– this includes social vs. academic language. Students pick up on social language very fast, it’s important that they use academic language as well.
  • Comprehension– Once students have all of the above, then comprehension can be focused on. If one of the above is missing, comprehension is limited. Some important components for teaching comprehension are learning to discuss a story and summarize, thinking out loud about a story, making predictions (children use their schema), and identifying story elements. All of these comprehension components should be modeled by an adult. It takes practice to understand a story.

(Think of the above components in a circle, Comprehension being in the middle and the other 4 surrounding it.)

Most importantly parents, read, read, read to your child. Enjoy their favorite stories! Make reading fun!