Summer Centers: The Beans Edition

All I can say is that its HOT here in Charleston! I have some little boys who love to play outside, but during the heat of the day even they don't want to venture out. I was just letting them run around the house and play after lunch time, but the screaming, the gigantic mess, and general chaos started getting to me.

I'm not super crafty or anything, but I thought maybe I could come up with something to keep them occupied and learning something constructive. So, with the help of Pinterest, I've been coming up with four learning centers we can work on everyday for a week before I change them out.  I try to gather all necessary materials on Sunday night. During the week, I get my boys to clean them up before nap time everyday so that the whole thing isn't too labor intensive for me. 

They love it! This week our theme was beans (kinda weird I know). Our first center was a bean sorting station. I filled a jar halfway full with beans of different colors. I got out a muffin tin and let the boys sort the beans together. By the end of the week they knew the names of all our beans-- kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and white beans.

Our second center was a craft where they spelled one letter of their names each day with cardboard, glue, and beans. We do a good deal of our grocery shopping at Costco, so I cut up some boxes we had hanging around to make a good sturdy base for the letters. We're planning to hang those on the wall in their bedroom when they are finished.

 Our third center was a sensory bucket filled with beans. I added some measuring cups and spoons and let them go to town. I was surprised by how much the boys loved this station. They loved running their fingers through the beans and pretending to cook meals for one another.

Our fourth and final center was buttoning and zipping station. I let them dress up in some of Daddy's clothes while they learn to zip and button. I figure if we can learn these little practical lessons soon enough Mama won't have to help them get dressed!

 Getting through all the centers takes about 30 minutes to an hour each day depending on how 'into it' they are. I thought maybe by the end of the week, I could let them rotate independently while I did laundry or cleaned house but that never worked out. My four year old could probably work through them independently, but my two year old definitely needs me there to keep him on task. They also just enjoy spending the time doing an activity with me. Even if both my older boys are engaged in their activities, my baby boy is crawling around on the floor trying to eat fallen beans. I was constantly scooping him up to prevent death by choking. 

The challenge for me is to find activities that both of my boys can enjoy while also being able to modify them for their different skill levels. Do you have any fun ideas for Summer Centers? I'd love to hear about them!!