Not all activities need to be elaborate or even require much preparation. Which is good because I am lazy. We did a math activity where the girls practiced counting and one-to-one correspondence and the setup took about 3 minutes. Did I mention I was lazy?
I used some leftover applesauce cups (I heart these things! Save them! They are great for sorting, filling, scooping, water play, sand play etc...) and some number stickers I had around. You could easily use any kind of cups/containers and even masking tape with numbers written on it. The key here is use what you have. For instance, I make hair clips for the girls, so I have a variety of embellishments lying around. I found these purple, pink and white flowers that I use on their clips, and put some in a small vase. I got the vases at the dollar store and they are so festive that the girls always feel like something fun will happen when I bring them out. But you can use cotton balls, pom poms, coins and any kind of container to hold them. Again, use what you have.
I then demonstrated how they could take a flower from the vase and place one in the cup that had a number 1 on it, place two in the cup with the 2 and so forth. A had no trouble doing this. She carefully counted and placed the correct number flowers in all the cups. One thing that bothered her, that I should have realized beforehand, was that when she finished, she had an extra flower leftover. OK, remember the lazy thing? That comes into play here. Rather than making sure the girls had just enough flowers to fill their cups, I just dumped a bunch in the vase. So poor A, who likes every loose end tied up, was not pleased with this extra flower. My bad. So when you do this, you might want to make sure to give them just enough flowers (items of your choice) to complete the task.
B is more of a free spirit. She was just putting however many flowers she wanted in whatever cup. This is fine too, but I wanted to see if she could perform the activity. When I sat with her and directed her attention back she was able to do it, but then quickly returned to doing her own thing. Why do I have a feeling this will be a continual theme in her life?
When the girls were done, I encouraged them to sort their flowers by color and they did that. OK, A did that and B continued with her exploration of the flowers. I think I could even do cups up to 10 next time though that would require us to eat more applesauce. Ah, the sacrifices I make for my kids.
This idea was inspired by Growing Up Our Style and their multitude of flower activities.