When my oldest was just beginning to show a desire for reading and word recognition, a friend gave me a great piece of advice: She said to make sure that throughout the process, I always remember that learning is supposed to be fun.
My children love games, and I find that spelling, reading and phonics can be greatly enhanced by playing and creating games that focus on those subjects.
For this Green issue of Petite Purls, a set of recycled wool alphabet bean bags are in order. Using a stack of pure wool sweaters that no longer fit, have become worn out or soiled, or accidentally shrunk in the wash are perfect.
There are endless possibilities for fun with these beanbags, and children will have hours of learning ahead.
At least 6 wool sweaters that have been slightly felted.
12 pieces of felt
4.5”x4.5” ruler or cardboard template
Hand needle and thread
Beans or rice for filling beanbag
To start, gather together a stack of at least 6 sweaters that have already been slightly felted, or that you will run through the washer and dryer once.
Using your ruler or template, cut out 52 squares of wool from your sweater. Mix and match the squares the way that you want to create 26 set of pairs.
Using your tracing paper, draw out your alphabet. We used a block letter format that had straight edges (rather than round), to make it easier to cut and sew. Please remember that these do not have to be perfect. This is a game for children, and the idea is simplicity. You can also try and find a set of pre made block stencils as the art or craft store.
Gather your wool felt together, and pin each letter template to the colors of your choice, Cut each out, leaving about a ½” around each side.
Center you felt letters onto each top square per pair, and using a zig zag stitch, sew around the entire letter.
Match up each letter pair with right sides together, and pin. Using a 1/2” seam allowance, sew around the entire square, leaving a 2” opening on one side. Do not clip corners.
Turn right side out, and fill with beans or rice.
Using a hand needle and thread, sew your opening closed using a blind hem or blanket stitch.
Place your bean bags into a large basket, and encourage word creation game playing.
Step 1: Put a pot in the middle of the floor, and have your children throw letters to form into words.
Step2: Have your child put all of the bean bags onto the floor, right side up, and create as many words as he/she can in 5 minutes.
Step 3: Play a passing game where you each throw a letter to one another, and then the other person has to say a word that begins with that letter.
Endless possibilities, a ton of fun, and a great way to use sweaters that are no longer wearable.
Heather Fontenot, co-editor of Rhythm of The Home, lives with her family on the Front Range of Northern Colorado. She has a passion for natural and creative living, and spends as much of her time outdoors as possible. She loves to knit, sew, garden, photograph, read and home school her two sweet little ones. She writes the blog, Shivaya Naturals, where she chronicles her life as a mother, artist, and gluten free baker.