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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bottle Caps

Today's educational tip also happens to be a little bit Earth friendly in nature, too. I didn't really plan it that way, but since it's that time of year when being Earth friendly is highly publicized, I figured I would include that little bit of information along with my educational tip.

My title says bottle caps and you're probably wondering what in the world bottle caps have to do with education.

Most of my readers are not aware of this, but I am a homeschooler. My (almost) 2 yr old and my 3 yr old will be exclusively home schooled. My 13 yr old is not, but he needs more structure than I could ever pretend to give him. I'm not terribly sure how I managed to spawn such a structured and schedule-oriented child, but that is exactly what he is.

As part of my homeschooling endeavor, I have opted to spend as little as possible on any actual curriculum that I choose to use for teaching my girls. To this end, spending hundreds of dollars on Math manipulatives is not something I was ever going to do. One day I was thinking about all the different Math lessons that would need to be taught and it dawned on me that I could find my own props for these lessons without spending any extra money.

I drink Cokes frequently. My brother drinks sodas. My mother-in-law drinks water. All around me are people who purchase, and toss, 20 oz bottles on a daily basis. I enlisted the crowds to my cause. I spread the word that I was on the lookout for bottle tops of every color possibly made. The crowds, of course, thought I was crazy (perhaps I should say crazier than they had already suspected...). They did not fully understand why I had developed this sudden obsession with bottle caps, yet they humored me and honored my request by providing me with several bottle tops. My dear brother even called me frequently to ask if I need this color or that before he bought his kids' drinks for the day. They all pitched in.

My resulting collection consists of about 100 or more plastic bottle caps in just about every color available. I think pink is the only color I have not yet managed to acquire.

By now you are probably agreeing with my family that I have, indeed, entered the realm of questionable sanity. Yet these wonderful --- and relatively free --- objects are amazing for teaching children. Below are just a few of the lessons that I have already taught Kira using my bottle cap collection:

Colors - just from playing with the caps and talking about them

Sorting - I gave her several bowls and showed her how to separate the caps by color. She was nearly 3 yrs old at the time and when I came back to check on her she had sorted all the caps properly.

Counting - How many red caps are there, etc.

The following lessons will be taught later as the girls are old enough to comprehend:




Sequencing / Patterns

The possibilities are truly endless.

Now that you know how wonderful bottle caps can be, stop throwing them away. Even beyond the educational value, a small child will be fascinated by the box of caps for at least 20 minutes and that is worth every ounce of storage space required to keep all these caps.

Please note: I washed all my caps in the dishwasher by placing them inside by bottle top cleaning basket. I also run them through occasionally to eliminate some of those built up germs.