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Saturday, July 13, 2013

DIY Alphabet Felt Board: Our "ABC Tree"


I've decided that I'm going to plunge ahead with an informal but oh-so-fun home preschool program with the girls. Homeschool seems like a really good fit for us right now.  I'm half scared to death (ohmygosh can I really handle being with them all. the. time... ?) and half excited out of my mind (the rush of teaching them to read myself! the fun projects! the opportunity for flexibility and experimentation and being 100% in charge of their moral development!)... but all that is a discussion for anther day...

Today's discussion is the newest piece of wall art that is hanging in our kitchen: The ABC Tree!  


Using the "suffer for 15 minutes a day" method of crafting, I made this super cute pinterest-worthy project and all the ideas came out of my very own brain!  WOO HOO for using my brain!  Anyways I wanted to create an opportunity for hands-on play with our letter and numbers.  And this is what I came up with!  

***HUGE DISCLAIMER***  This ain't no crafting blog, people.  If you're a professional crafty person then keep the giggles to a minimum okay?  I made quite a few mistakes but I wholeheartedly operate under the "better done than done perfect" approach when it comes to things like this.  The bottom line is that even though I wish it looked a little better, my kids love it.  And they saw me make it for them.  

Lily still tells me "deek you for making me dis Momma" :o)  Awwww...


Step 1:  I got a big board and drew a pretty swirly tree on it.  I found the image in a google search and just went from there.

Step 2:  I transferred the design to a sheer piece of paper so I could cut out the paper to trace the exact design onto the brown felt.  I found that chalk worked well for drawing on the darker colored felts... but I used sharpie most of the time.

Shout out to my Mom for sending me a glorious package from Hobby Lobby for all this stuff!  I dedicate our ABC Tree to her.  And Lily and Sam.  But I couldn't have done it without the felt and hot glue gun Mom sent!



Step 3:  I glued the blue felt onto the board for the sky.  I chose to wrap the felt around the board and also glued it to the back a little (to discourage tiny fingers from pulling at it too much.)

Step 4:  Then I glued the tree onto the sky.

You can see where this is one of my mistakes.  Hot glue isn't the best glue to use when you want something to lay flat and pretty.  But there was no going back once I got started so, next time I make an ABC Tree (ha. never) I'll research my glues better.  If you're crafty feel free to comment and tell us silly folks what's what here.  


Step 5:  I glued the grass onto the bottom of the board.  I used the same general idea as with the tree design... traced out a grass stencil on paper and then used that to trace the design onto the green felt.

Insert another mistake ;o) because for all that measuring I didn't ACTUALLY check the grass to make sure it was the right height before cutting it out.  But by that time I was obviously too lazy to redo it okay with just adding some extra green grass in a different color to hide the fact that the grass didn't come all the way up to the bottom of the tree!  Ha!

Step 6:  I cut out the green leaves!


Step 7:  Letters, baby!  I did an assortment of colors cause who doesn't love colors?  And I also added an extra Y and M so I can spell both "Lily" and "Sammy" at the same time.  And at the last minute I went crazy and did the numbers 1-10.  I know, I'm a wild woman with this crafting stuff!  Once you get rolling it's just so fun!  And a little zen, too.  Especially if I worked on it while the girls were asleep ;o)

Then came the big decision.  Do I hand stitch the letters onto the leaves like I did with the Christmas Tree?  Or do I hurry-scurry and just hot glue them so it's done sooner?


Step 8:  Letter attachment, the hand-stitched method.  What can I say?  Sometimes I am an over-achiever.  But doesn't it look so cute this way?  Much more decorative.  Plus I was able to work on it "on the go" (as in, while Jesse was driving us home from Switzerland) which I wouldn't have been able to do with the glue gun.

It definitely added A LOT of extra hours to the project but I'm happy with the result.  


Step 9:  Hang that sucker on the wall and start learning your letters, man!  I used some little hook things and wire that Kirsten helped me find at the German hardware store.  I hung it using K's smart framing method, too.  I needed it to be roughly accurate because if it was hung too high Lily wouldn't be able to reach the top.


Step 10:  Learn those letters!  And make a general mess of the leaves whenever you're not learning letters.  Uncle Floyd would walk by and say "oh, it's fall again!" and that's pretty accurate.  But I keep the "blowing leaves" from getting lost by insisting on a "tree leaves stay in the kitchen" rule.

Having it in the kitchen was intentional... they aren't usually allowed to play in the kitchen while Mommy's cooking.  But because it's a learning game and it's on the far side of the room away from the stove I figured it'd be nice to be able to talk letters with them while I work.

So we have informal lessons at this tree.  And I was super impressed the other day because Kirsten was visiting and Lily went over, grabbed the A, and proudly reported "A is for APPLE!... And ant!"  Atta girl!  She also loves to pick out the letters she knows for people's names.  She asks for new ones all the time..

"Mommy this is Aunt Bef-ing's letter!"
"This is yours letter!"
"What's Wreck it Ralph's letter?"
"Here Sammy, dis is yours letter!"
"Yook!  It's my name!"

And that, my friends, is the story of my ABC Tree!  AKA my secret way of teaching my girls the alphabet while they THINK they're just playing with a cool toy Momma made!


And so our homeschooling journey begins!

7 comments:

  1. ooh-ooh-pick-me!!! - - - I *think* you should have used spray adhesive for the big parts - - but I only just learned that at a Pinterest group that Doodle took me to at the library (definitely after I sent the felt and glue gun, sorry!)

    I especially love the ballet pose (Lily) in approaching the tree - - so funny! But I'm sad that they don't have all of Gigi's letters - I may need to send more felt!!

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    1. Oh haha I can totally make another G and I. I have plenty of leftover felt. And I'm glad you noticed her silly pose... I forgot to draw extra attention to her drama ;o) I can't even remember why she was doing that but I love that you can see her little calf muscle!

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    2. PS spray adhesive - CHECK

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  2. Things I thought while looking at this as I was scrolling down:

    1) "wow jessica is so artsy and creative for doing two types of grass, it adds a neat affect"

    2) LOOK AT LILY's CUTE LITTLE CALF MUSCLE!

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  3. Hahaha YEP I totally almost left that picture without explaining WHY I did two colors of grass. But it's good for my humility to admit I'm an idiot sometimes. And I agree, that little calf muscle is SO CUTE!!!

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  4. and you've officially got half your year's curriculum already done ;-p let me know if you run out of ideas or need more concrete lesson plans. I say if you spend 2 minutes a day at this age you're golden lol

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I definitely catch myself thinking I'm not doing enough but then I remember that most of preschool is learning through play. And storybooks. So we're pretty good in that department.

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