As Kinder teachers, we understand the importance of helping our students develop their fine motor skills. We’re constantly searching for new and exciting ideas to use in our classrooms. Pinterest certainly aids this and can become rather addictive. It can also become overwhelming at times, seeing all the amazing ideas that other teachers and parents are doing with their kids. Some are extremely clever, reusing materials that can be found around the house and others can end up being quite pricey. Regardless, they all help in developing motor skills.
Today I’m sharing the activities we used during our stations this week. These were all budget friendly as it consists of goodies that we already had and what we didn’t have was easy and affordable to get.
Let’s dive straight in.
I was super chuffed to find these wooden pegs for next to nothing. They are normally quite pricey in Cambodia, or they certainly used to be, so that was quite a score. I bought a mixture of pegs, which the little ones all handled with ease.
Pegs can be used in so many ways, but for today I just wanted them to practice clipping them onto the happy faces and I included the counting cards because why not? Unfortunately I cannot find the link to the site I downloaded the pics from but it is easy to make your own.
They were so excited to present their happy faces. Kids are great aren’t they? 🙂
Nuts and bolts
Now this may be because I recently made the chess set but this is something I have wanted to do with the kids for a long time but just never got round to it. Finally I popped on over to the hardware store AGAIN and purchased some nuts, bolts and washers. I sprayed some green and pink to add some variety and that was all the prep needed.
They all thoroughly enjoyed this activity, girls and boys had a whirl of a time.
Beads, sticks and sponges?
This is another easy activity to put together and super affordable. The sponges cost less than 50c, which I cut in half. The sticks were also 50c for a pack of 100 and I used straws and small beads to make it more challenging for early finishers, and that’s it.
I simply placed two pieces of sponge on top of each other, pushed four sticks through, arranged some straws and beads in little containers, and the station was ready for action. This was a real hit as they were completely zoned throughout. For those speedier than others, I added another stick or two and that kept them busy. What a hoot!
This station sounds funny but again, another simple activity to put together. All you need are some single-hole punches and leaves. I grabbed leaves from our mango trees, which was great as they’re big and found some smaller leaves off of our durian tree. That’s it. My students really enjoyed this, it’s a random activity but great for experimenting with different textures.
Fishing for elastics
This is exactly what the header entails. I used small containers to house the water (these were about a $1) added small, colorful elastic bands and gave the kiddies a stick (same sticks used earlier). They needed to fish for the elastics and place them into a small container. This was the favorite for the day, must be because of the water but they all absolutely LOVED it!
Well I hope that inspires you. I really love doing creative stations with my kids. They work for all ages and the kids benefit greatly from them.
Just like that. Christmas has come and gone. Crazy right? Well, I guess we can say that about this entire year. Keith and I normally don’t normally exchange gifts at Christmas but this year, we decided we should but…we should make each other something. We laid down some rules such as, we were not allowed to spend more than $20 and it had to be something we could use. Oh and Keith was banned from drawing anything, that would be a big disadvantage for me. 😉 Let the brainstorming begin.
Keith has quite a few passions. I racked my brain for a bit but then the idea came to me. It was obvious. The man is obsessed with chess. Why not make him a chess set? SOLD. Next step was researching some ideas. That’s when I came across the nut and bolt idea. Now, it seemed like a relatively easy thing to do. Pop past a hardware store and pick up all the pieces. EASY PEASY… NOT. It turned out to be a mission to find all the pieces, especially the ones that I originally wanted to get. I think I visited majority of the hardware stores in my little town. Believe me, there are plenty here! None had the pieces I wanted and so I had to improvise. The hardest piece to find, which I’m super chuffed to have eventually found was the crown (castle being its official name). Funnily enough, I contacted my one of my Grade 3 students as her family owns a hardware store and they were the only ones to stock these valuable little pieces. SCORE!
These are just some of the pieces needed
So what next? I initially soaked the nuts and bolts in vinegar to remove the rust on some of the pieces but once cleaned up and dried, I wasn’t happy with how that turned out. It seemed to make the pieces worse. Sooo… off I went to the hardware store again. I found one that I went back to several times to grab an extra nut and bolt here and there. They must have thought I was nuts (haha). Some days asking for 16 bolts and then returning the next day for bigger ones, haha. But I finally got all my pieces, cleaned them up and then it was time to spray…
All ready to be sprayed
I decided on gold and silver. Thought that would make a great combo. Spray paint is super affordable and it dries so quickly so I was able to spray more than once in a day. Once the pieces were evenly covered, I then sprayed with clear just to seal it all in. I really like how they turned out.
This gold is so pretty.
Next up was setting up the board. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to use but then I realized it needed to be budget friendly and I figured a wooden chopping board would be light and the perfect size. Off to the stores again. I think the size I chose was perfect as the pieces look great all set up and it’s still small enough to travel if needs be.
First thing to getting this started was using masking tape to cover the entire board. I was paranoid and used 2 layers, just in case. 🙂
I taped horizontally and vertically.
Then it was time to measure and draw the lines. This takes a bit of time but is totally worth it. It’s also quite relaxing, being completely zoned into something.
Once that is complete, you can then begin slicing the blocks out. I used a Stanley blade for this and surprisingly, it didn’t take too long to do.
Now it’s time to spray the board. I think I may have sprayed too much on mine (I blame my excitement at wanting to see it all finished) as it did leak through the tape a bit, however, I actually like the effect it gave. It certainly made it a little grungy. Quite apt.
Remember don’t over spray. I may have been a bit over eager and sprayed too much at once, hence my paint lurking in parts it shouldn’t have been.
Let the paint dry and possibly add a 2nd coat. I certainly did. When you’re sure it’s dry, you can start to peel off the remaining tape. It was quite fun doing this although as I mentioned before, I was a tad disappointed at first with how the paint had crept in. Honestly, I did sand it down a bit, especially on areas, which really needed it. However, I am very happy with the final result. It’s great that it’s not 100% perfect because firstly, it is homemade and secondly, I don’t spray paint and the imperfections make it real. 🙂 AWESOME!
Now I wasn’t planning on making a storage box for the pieces as I had intended it to be something that is always ready to play in our house. However, Keith does love playing chess and might want to take it somewhere so how could he transport all these pieces. Brainstorm alert…
Keith had designed a chess logo ages ago. It’s a great looking logo and I suddenly remembered he had that, which I thought would be the perfect cover for his storage box. So off I went to Sakura, one of the coolest stores in town selling second hand goodies from Japan. I have found gold in this store over the years. I searched through their massive collection of boxes and eventually found the ideal one. I may have looked like a weirdo sizing the box with my bolts, but I’m ok with that.
I’d also decided on sewing a cushion to house the pieces, safely tucked in with elastic. I was looking for fabric that may have a chess pattern. It wasn’t until the shop owner suggested I use a Kroma, which is the traditional Khmer scarf, when I realised that was the obvious choice. How perfect?
Then I removed the leaves from the top of the box, sprayed it black and started sewing my cushions. Now I think my Mom would be rather proud because sewing is not my strong suit. Or rather I haven’t had a desire to perfect those skills. My Gran on the other hand is incredible with sewing anything and everything. Don’t get me started on her knitting. She always took care of my missing buttons and then Keith took over. He is excellent when it comes to fixing holes in clothes. So yeah, it was rather surprising that I decided to sew. I am rather proud of results. Not too shabby for a beginner. The elastic serves its purpose and we had an original housing for all the pieces.
The chess set was nearly complete. The last stage was sizing the logo and then placing it on. I used my DIY modge podge to attach the logo and am absolutely thrilled with the final results.
Sizing the logo. This is Keith’s original logo. It’s so unique.
I worked on his gift for about 2 weeks, which wasn’t too bad considering I had to be very sneaky and do it in between work. I am really happy with the end result and it was totally worth all the effort when I got to see Keith’s reaction. It was priceless.
Happy little chappy
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas wherever you were and that you have a fantastic New Year.
I don’t know about you but I absolutely love hitting a thrift store. Searching through heaps of clothes to find something special is exciting. You have to be willing to search though, I know it’s not everyone’s deal but for me, I thoroughly enjoy it.
How cute is this strawberry shirt? You obviously have to have matchy earrings 😉
Personally, growing up there was a stigma to shopping for 2nd hand clothes. As a teenager, it was all about having brand name clothing and if you didn’t, you weren’t considered ‘cool’. However, a lot has changed since then. Many people are leaning towards thrift stores, it’s proven by how many have popped up. They’re affordable, you tend to find very unique items and they’re generally much better quality (they’ve lasted long enough to still end up in a store).
The sleeves on this top are AMAZING!
You have many thrift store options in Cambodia and all very budget friendly. You could stop over at the markets and spend 1000 riel on a top (25c) or going to a store and spend anything from $3 – $5 on items. These stores sell everything from shirts, dresses, skirts, shoes, winter coats (in Cambodia) and so much more. I’ve also found most of my accessories from these stores, their handbags are fantastic quality and don’t break the bank.
This whole look cost less than $10 🙂
Thrift shopping is not only budget friendly but it’s also a much greener lifestyle. Those clothes already exist and it’s not supporting the fast fashion industry. It’s scary to know how much water is used when just making a pair of jeans (about 1800 gallons).
This whole look was thrifted.
Thrift shopping doesn’t only consist of clothing. I have purchased some amazing goodies from these stores over the years. Pillows and stuffed toys that are in my School’s Reading Room, mugs, bowls and plates (oh my goodness, it is SO fun browsing through the racks).
This is just one aisle of the bags.
Look at all the crockery. You could be here for ages searching through it all.
This particular store gets all it goodies from Japan.
Most of our books in the Reading Room are not new and they’re in amazing condition.
You don’t only have to hit a thrift store to find gold. Cambodia is home to many expats. As expats do, they come and go and often sell their belongings. Our Reading Room is home to couches and bean bags bought from expats.
How adorable is this pallet couch?
All of these were bought 2nd hand.
Now I’m not saying that buying new is wrong. I am certainly not going thrift shopping for my undies. It works for me and it may be something you have not possibly considered. It is something that we should talk about though as we are living in a time where us humans, have taken advantage of our gorgeous home, planet Earth. 🙂 It just means making smarter purchases. 🙂
Wow! December 2020, can you believe it? What a whirlwind of a year. I know we can all name plenty ways in which our lives have changed because of the pandemic from not seeing family and friends, losing loved ones, likely receiving a much lower salary or not receiving one at all. Medical professionals around the world have been working non stop and of course, schools closing.
The closing of schools obviously affected millions of students around the world. We all understand why it had to happen but try explaining that to a 3 year old who loves putting his little uniform on in the morning. Kids are experiencing something that I couldn’t have even imagined as a youngster. My biggest worry in Primary school was making sure my homework was complete and remembering to bring my lunch box home .(stressful times 😉 )
It’s a pretty looking school, don’t you think?
I must say, compared to how intense some of the lock downs have been around the world, including my country, South Africa. Cambodia got off lightly. Family and friends constantly informed us of all the rules and restrictions. South Africa even stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes during their lock down. You had to have a specific permit to travel to a family member in need. Intense. Here in Cambodia, we have had a tiny amount of cases compared to the rest of the world. Majority being incoming cases. All schools closed in March and we went online shortly after.
All our grades went online, from Kindergarten – High school.
Now, I must say that I was very impressed and proud of our Schools and my team. We all worked together in researching the best and easiest ways for our students to join lessons online. We experimented with various online platforms and decided on the simplest one. As teachers around the world can relate, it was definitely not easy setting it up, especially when facing so many obstacles. Some teachers not being tech savvy, students not having access to a phone / tablet, students don’t have WiFi or data, no parental supervision and so on.
A Ben 10 desk. Perfect set up for his lessons. 🙂
However, after many video tutorials and countless phone calls, we got our schools online. Students were suddenly exposed to all this exciting technology. We had our Grade 1’s chatting away with their classmates and some of them signing in on their own. Never doubt kids, they absorb new information so quickly. We stayed online for the rest of our academic year and even during our Summer School. Then some wonderful news…
SCHOOLS WERE GOING TO REOPEN IN OCTOBER.
Our lovely ladies ready for our first day back.
We were thrilled. Students were excited and parents were beyond excited. There was very strict guidelines but we were all eager to adapt to our new ‘norm’. Our Schools set up the disinfect machine, everyone wore masks and visors, the classrooms had been arranged to adhere to social distancing and we shut down our canteen etc. One of the most challenging things was our Kindergarten. These teeny tiny kids wore their masks and then it became a toy or a tissue or something to whack their friend with. (You know you can relate…) Another difficultly was not allowing our students to play outdoors, not having their P.E or I.T lessons. But… kids were happy to be back. We all got into the swing of things for October and most of November but then some more bad news came. Cambodia had some community cases.
The entire school was prepped and ready to reopen.
All students must have temperature checked upon arrival.
I must say Cambodia really did handle the whole situation really well. We were informed to close our schools on the Sunday night and we were back online by Wednesday. It’s amazing how much we have all learnt during that time. I think our eyes have all taken a beating but at least our kids have still been able to maintain some sort of routine. We forget how much they love school, loving seeing their friends and their teachers.
So to all the teachers, parents and students out there. A very big WELL DONE! You are all superstars. Teachers have developed themselves by learning new programs, exploring google and creating some exciting resources. Parents have a new found respect for teachers but many have been super helpful during this time and to students, who have been forced into distance learning but handling it like champions. GREAT JOB!
Snapshot of Keith during his lesson.
Chin up everyone,
Things are starting to look up. Keep taking good care of yourself. We’ve got this. 🙂
It’s mid November and we’re all searching for exciting Christmas crafts to do with our students. One of my all time favorites would have to be some sort of split pin craft. Many people don’t quite know what I’m talking about when I mention the word split pin but as soon as you describe it to them, they remember them from their childhood. You know, the little pin that lets your creation move its arms or legs etc. I think most folks are also confused as to where to buy these delightful little pins but I’m pretty sure that most bookstores stock them, they’re generally in little boxes hidden in a corner somewhere and an added bonus is that they’re dirt cheap.
I am rather surprised that you don’t find too many split pin templates online. I thoroughly enjoy making them and my kiddies all do too. They love showing you how their little creature is able to move :). Today’s post is going to take you through how to make a split pin craft and then also walk you through our split pin pack. This pack is one of our first products we created when we set up Bonkerbots, or rather K and L as seen in the pics. That was our original name and logo. Cute right? I think this product is a classic and it’s always fun when Christmas time rolls round and I know I can whip these little guys out.
Ok let’s get started…
What you’ll need?
card stock / cardboard (thicker paper than regular)
That’s it. That’s all you need.
Simply print your template out onto card stock. I highly recommend this to ensure longevity with the end result.
Color your template in. I decided on the Snowman, although it was difficult to decide. I have colored in versions of each and will let my students choose which one they would like ahead of time. This builds up the excitement too.
Cut your snowman out using the guidelines.
Poke holes into the x’s. We used the tip of our scissors to help with this.
Attach the arms using the split pins.
What’s included in the Christmas split pin pack?
Each Christmas character requires 2 pieces of card stock. Don’t you think they look adorable? They all have such personalities. 🙂 Click on the link below to grab your own copy.