Saturday, January 16, 2010
My five-year-old has known her alphabet for years now, is doing a fabulous job of sounding out short words, and generally is well on her way to true literacy... except, she doesn't know the order of the alphabet! Whoops. How did we fail to teach this concept? Clearly, not nearly enough singing of the ABC song, for one thing. But when I realized about two weeks ago that she can't put letters in alphabetical order (or sing the alphabet song for her brother without confusing him mightily), I was madly brainstorming ways to help her get her mind around this concept.
Serendipity! That very day, I was reading Craft: Magazine's blog (required reading if you are any kind of crafter, or even if you just admire them), and they were highlighting a project from Holly of Chez Beeper Bebe for counting bean bags with appliqued numbers on them. Oh my! Here is the complete tutorial with downloadable instructions and everything (wow, thanks, Holly!). I never cease to be amazed by the generosity and creativity of folks out here in ones-and-zeros-land.
So, obviously I changed them up a bit, because our goal is letters and not numbers. So instead of ten, I have twenty-six. And I decided that drawing the letters free-hand would make them a little cozier (the teenager says "more human-looking"). I had a blast using up a bunch of fabric scraps left over from the quilt I made for my mom, and adding in a few others we had lying around. (The red-on-white print with little doggies is leftover from a pair of overalls my mom made for my brother circa 1971. Love it!) What a clever way to use scraps that are too small for most projects! I decided to make the letter backgrounds out of leftover linen (I knew I saved those oddly-shaped scraps for a good cause!), and used black-eyed peas for the "stuffing," since they were on sale.
Since I had the fabric lying around, my only costs were the fusible webbing (of which I have lots leftover and will definitely use again), and the beans. So, like $6. Not bad. They feel absolutely wonderful in the hands... between the natural texture of the linen and the delicious scrunch of the beans, they really are a delight.
Oh yeah, and the kids love them. I mean, love them. There is something so remarkable about acquiring a new plaything that has been made by hand. They have been anticipated while the making was going on (all week long I've been getting inquiries, "when do you think they'll be done? If you had to guess?"), and somehow, the child just seems to know how much love went into their making.
Many thanks again to Holly for the inspiration. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of a bean bag boom in our house -- already I'm getting requests for numbers, more letters ("so we can make words!"), and animals. And colors. Oh my. I'd better get busy.