Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Little Clay Moveable Alphabet

Rain, rain, RAIN!!!

We had a nice (though temporary) break from the rain this morning, so the older child and I spent some good hours scrubbing the deck and deck furniture and trimming down the shrubbery (my little kid is a hard worker when she puts her mind to it, and made the deck table and all four chairs sparkle with a scrub brush, dishwashing detergent, and the garden hose), but much of our time lately has been spent occupying ourselves while it rains, with coloring, puzzles, Berenstain Bears cartoons, the Wonderlab, and various little projects that I squirrel away until the time is right.

Staedtler Fimo Soft Polymer Clay - 10-Color Set
Yesterday morning, the time was right for FIMO. I've collected the odd little block of this polymer clay off and on whenever it's been on big sale, but I hadn't yet presented it to the girls. FIMO clay probably isn't the absolute bestest product in the world--I really ought to be using its US-made clone, Sculpey, since I try to buy American whenever practical, and even though FIMO is technically non-toxic, it IS a plastic and does contain PVC, so don't eat it or inhale it or sculpt with it every day for hours--but I love this stuff anyhow. I have a bit of a thing for bad boys.

The girlies, of course, went to town sculpting their own awesome little pretties--
--but I have been dying for a while now to do my own little project with these:
I made a moveable alphabet for the kiddos!

A moveable alphabet is a very big deal in the Montessori world, because it disassociates the cognitive practices of reading and composing from the physical practice of writing. Isolating a particular cognitive OR physical skill allows a child to focus, and better achieve mastery according to her own internal clock.

These letters are a little wonky, because I made them while kneading clay and mediating the girls, etc. Next time--and there will be a next time, and a time after, because a moveable alphabet requires numerous duplicates of every letter--I'll roll out the clay nicely onto parchment paper, and cut the alphabet and bake it without moving it around, so that the letters will look neater. The important thing, however, is that they're sturdy, being oven-baked, and fun--
--oh, and also educational:

And the letters get to play with their new pet tree, which Sydney created for them:

Or that might be the dog that she made. Definitely not the unicorn, because that one had an orange head.

P.S. Check out my latest posts over at Crafting a Green World--a tutorial for spraypaint reverse-stenciling on an EZ-Up, and a round-up of DIY options for price tags.


Stephanie said...

I like this idea.
We have so many different kinds of letters - stamps, scrabble letters, fridge magnets, etc, etc, but this one is fun, too!
'Cept polymer clay is so expensive!! :/

julie said...

You can't totally tell from the photos, but these are pretty small letters.

I'm guessing (because we played with a ton of colors when I made this set) that you could make an entire alphabet out of less than two packs of FIMO, which I buy when they're a buck a piece. So maybe four copies of each letter for 6 bucks?

Definitely cheaper ways, but since we're coming from a Montessori background I was on the lookout for exactly this kind of manipulative letter, and those babies don't come cheap!

Anna said...

I may have said this before, but... whenever it comes out, sign me up for a copy of your book!