DIY Letter Puzzle

DIY Letter Puzzle | Octavia and Vicky

Recently Pebble’s Grandma travelled interstate to visit family, and we had the great pleasure of picking her up from the airport when she returned home. Grandma didn’t know that Pebble and I were going to be there – it was a bit of a last minute decision and a lovely surprise. We were both very eager to see her, we had missed her lots and lots! To prepare for her arrival I made this quick little DIY Letter Puzzle for Pebble, which became the ‘Welcome Home’ sign for Grandma at the airport.

Pebble has been very keen to learn about letters and words lately. She points to print everywhere in her environment and wants to know what it says. She loves to spot her own first initial, and is also getting good and spotting the initials for mum and dad. This DIY Letter Puzzle gave Pebble a chance to practice what she already knew about letters, and to learn about some new letters too. Even if she didn’t know the letter name or sound for all of them, she still enjoyed matching up the letter with the correct shape on the page.

DIY Letter Puzzle

You will need:

  • self adhesive foam letters
  • coloured paper
  • a lead pencil

Preparation:

  1. Go through the letters and select the ones that you need to create the puzzle.
  2. Place (not stick) the letters on the page in the order that they need to go, and trace around each letter to leave an outline on the page. Your puzzle is ready to use!

Play:

  1. Introduce the puzzle to your child. As our puzzle was quite large and included many letters and three words, I started by breaking the puzzle up into three parts – introducing the letters for each word separately. If you have a smaller puzzle (ie. the child’s name) you could introduce all the letters at once.
  2. Talk about the shapes of the letters as you search for the right one to make a match. Are they tall? Curly? Short? Straight? Do they have a ‘tail’? Practice saying the sound that each letter makes. Talk about the order that they go in. Include more or less detail, depending on the age and interest of your child.
  3. Help your child to peel and stick each letter on, if needed. Don’t worry about the finished product, let them explore and give it a go. Some letters may not end up in the right spot, and that’s ok. It’s all a part of the learning process.
  4. Put the finished puzzle on display (or take it to the airport to meet a loved one!).

DIY Letter Puzzle | Octavia and Vicky

Make it meaningful

Making literacy activities like this one meaningful will help your child be more likely to want to be involved, and give them more success with their learning. We had a reason to be making this sign – it was for Grandma! You could try these ideas to make the experience more meaningful for your child:

  • create a sign for their bedroom door
  • create a birthday card and/or envelope for a friend
  • make signs for pretend play (eg. road signs, shop signs)
  • create labels for around the home (kitchen cabinets or toy drawers)
  • copy the names of their favourite story book titles or characters
  • create table mats or place cards for a special dinner
  • make personalised book marks
  • create an alphabet poster

Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky

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Make Your Own Potato People

Make Your Own Potato People

Have you ever read a Pamela Allen book? They are LOTS of fun to read, with plenty of hilarious noises and opportunities for theatre. I have loved them since I was a child – I was nine when her first book was published. Pebble and I enjoy reading lots of Pamela Allen books, and one of our favourites is The Potato People. This is a quieter book, with a few tugs at the old heart strings. Pebble doesn’t necessarily understand the sentiment behind it just yet, but she certainly loves to read about how Jack and his Grandma create their very own Potato People. Which led us to: “Mummy, can we make those too?”. Yes, we can.

How to make your own potato people

You will need:

  • Potatoes – we used baby potatoes
  • Glue or sticky tape – we used a low melt glue gun
  • Bits and pieces for making your potato people, eg:
    • Bottle tops
    • Fabric (one of my favourite dresses that I tore a hole in and am not clever enough to fix *cry*)
    • Dried beans
    • Toothpicks
    • Wool
    • Permanent marker
    • Your imagination!

Potato People 1

To Make:

  • Use toothpicks to secure one potato on top of the other, creating a head and a body.
  • Use more toothpicks to create arms and legs. We used a third ‘leg’ to stabilise our potato people so that they could stand up on their own.
  • Use the bits and pieces to decorate your potato people. We used dried beans for eyes, wool and play dough for hair, bottle tops for hats, and fabric for clothes.

Potato People 2Potato People 4

You can be as simple or as detailed as you like with your designs. Pebble was quite happy to leave some of her potato people nude, while one wore a dress and another wore just marker (body paint?!). Pebble (almost three) needed quite a lot of help with rolling and cutting the hair, and pushing the toothpicks in, but was happy in her role as craft dictator while I did the fiddly bits. Older children could easily make these on their own. I think this activity would be great fun to try with a loaded craft trolley, a bag of old potatoes and a class of six year olds!

Potato People 7

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever made with a potato?

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Create a Reading Nook in Five Minutes

Thanks to The Little Book Adventure I have finally gotten around to making Pebble a reading nook. While I fell in love with some gorgeous and inspiring ideas, we settled on something that was quick, easy and completely adaptable. It literally took five minutes to put together!

I had planned a shopping trip to Ikea to get a few little bits and pieces, but while out and about was suddenly overtaken by a very upset belly. I abandoned the shopping so that I could be near….well.. facilities –  if you get my drift. Facilities that I did not have to share  with others. I left the purchasing to the husband and he did a stellar job choosing some gorgeous cushions! The leaf canopy is also from Ikea and the rest of the ‘nook’ is just our lounge room.

How to Create a Reading Nook in Five Minutes

1. Find a Nook! Ours happened to be a natural space between the couch and a full length window that we never use (don’t worry, it’s safety glass!). We then boxed in  a third side using Pebble’s craft drawers (otherwise known as ‘Doodle Drawers’. Mister Maker fans will understand). One day when our garden is looking  a little less weedy, and there isn’t a home gym and a gas heater right outside that window, we’ll open up the blinds and perhaps pop in a few cute planter boxes with some potted colour. Lovely! For now, the Holland blind completes the Book Nook Look.

2. Throw in some cushions. Thanks to Paul for picking out this cute selection.

3. Add in some finishing touches. We used the leaf canopy to create a cosy cubby. It is simply wedged not-so-delicately between the drawers and the couch.

4. Add some favourite books. Pebble and I chose some books that she knows and loves dearly, that she can ‘read’ by herself. Rotate the books regularly with a fresh batch from your collection (or the library).

Pebble is also a big fan of dragging some blankets and soft toys into the reading nook, as well as doing some drawing or pretend play. It’s her space to do with what she will :)

 

Looking for more reading nook inspiration?

Reading Nook Inspiration

Special thanks to Jackie at My Little Bookcase and her Little Book Adventure.

My Little Bookcase

 
Where do you like to read? Do you have your own little ‘book nook’?

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Reading Nook Inspiration

I have always wanted to create a reading nook for Pebble, but we are a little short of space in our home. However! I now am finding myself motivated by the Little Book Adventure challenge. The idea is to find new places to read. This doesn’t mean that you need to create a permanent book nook – but I’d like to give a temporary one a try.

I’m trying to be a little bit creative with space, and also with money. Of course I need to do my research! So I have hunted down some gorgeous ideas from the interweb…. Pebble’s reading nook is highly unlikely to turn out like any of these delicious examples, but I can dream, right? I hope they give you a little reading nook inspiration too.

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Here’s the easy peasy reading nook that we ended up making for Pebble (click on the image to read about it):
Create a Reading Nook in Five Minutes

Does your home have a ‘reading nook’?

What are some of the different spaces and places that you have stopped to share or enjoy a book?


Read, Play, Make: The City and The Country

I’ve been meaning to play along with the Scissors Paper Rock Bookworms ever since it started, and I’m FINALLY  joining in for October. The theme is ‘Country vs City’ and the idea is that you read books related to the theme, then make/do/sing/play anyway you like in relation to the theme.

We took a low key approach to the Bookclub. I find that the more I plan an experience, the less likely Pebble is to be interested. I let her lead the way and we both end up having more fun. It was so interesting to find out what Pebble’s idea of ‘city’ and ‘country’ is. Before reading we chatted and I asked, “What’s in a city?”.
“Dinosaurs!” she answered. Um. Ok!
“Is there really?!” I asked.
“Yes, we saw their bones when we went to the city” she replied.
Aha, now I knew where her thinking was at. We have been to ‘the city’ a couple of times, and on one most recent trip we visited the museum, and we did indeed see dinosaur bones. I asked Pebble what else we saw in the city.
“Birds!” she replied, “I chased them around and around!” Yes, she had chased some pigeons around the park outside the museum. Hmm what else did she remember?
“Toys!”
“Where were the toys?” I prompted.
“In the nappy change room, we played toys in there” she remembered. Yes, we did. One change room had a toy kitchen and she begged me to play with it.
These are the things most important to a toddler!

Pebble hadn’t really heard the word ‘country’ in the context of city vs country before. In the past we have had lots of talk about different ‘countries’ that people live in, and Pebble loves using her blow up globe to find Australia, then England, where we have family. She finds the North Pole, “where Santa lives”, and she tries very hard to find Kenya, where her Aunty was born, but that’s a bit tricky. So the word ‘country’ was a bit confusing for her.

We started by having a poke through our home library, and finding one of our picture books with lots of different objects. Pebble pointed out things that we might find in the city. My teacher brain started to work over time, and the complexities of what ‘city’ and ‘country’ mean started to blow my mind… but I brought it down a notch for my little 2 year and 9 month old.

We read After Dark by Louis Baum, which is about a little girl who is in bed at home while her mum goes out to do the grocery shopping. The book goes back and forth between mum on her journey to and from the shops, and the little girl slowly getting closer and closer to the front door, until they meet on the front step for a hug. The mother walks past the pub, the cinema, rows of houses and into the busy supermarket.

We read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and talked about all the things that the family had to get through to find the bear (and again to get home!). This is a favourite of Pebble’s (and most children’s, of course) and we had a very enthusiastic reading. Twice in fact! I said that the people in the book lived in the country, far away from the city where all the big buildings and busy road are. They live in the country, where there is lots of grass and mud and trees. Again, my brain was going over time, thinking that we do have those things in the city too… but anyway…

We also read another of Pebble’s favourite books, Let’s go to the Farm, a Fisher-Price lift the flap book. We looked at all the animals, fruits and vegetables, and I said that most farms were a long way away from the city, they were in the country.

I asked Pebble if she would like to play city and country. She agreed very happily. I asked how we should play and she said “we need to get the special tape and make the roads”. So we got out some tape (I couldn’t find the masking tape, so we used duct tape), made the roads and then did some planning. Pebble chose where to put her city, and used her building blocks to build it. She directed me to use another set of blocks to build more city on the other side of the road.

“What about the country”, I asked. Where will that be? Pebble pointed to the other end of our duct tape highway. “What goes in the country?” I asked. “We need a farm!” she said. We used the farm duplo set and put the farm in the country. Then we were ready to play.

We played quite happily for the rest of the day, going back and forth between our city and country play and other things. It was lots of fun! Pebble definitely still has a lot to understand about the city and the country yet, and I am planning our next family excursion to farm gates for some spring harvesting. Strawberry picking, anyone?

Pop over to Scissors Paper Rock Bookworms to see how others had fun with this theme.
ScissorsPaperRockBlog

Do you live in the country? Or the city? Or somewhere in between?