When it comes to gifts, I enjoy giving children educational gifts. Sometimes the gifts are academic in nature; other times it’s fun to gift them with an item that will stimulate their creative play. My favorite gifts to receive are ones that have been handmade. For me, to be able to give a gift that fits into both categories is just a bonus! Awhile back, Cheri of I am Momma Hear Me Roar posted an idea for Alphabet Rocks. Immediately, I thought of my nephew who was just beginning to enjoy forming the letters that spell out his name. In fact, he was so taken with the realization that these “marks” he was making would eventually spell his name, that he began writing the letter “J” all over the house! Since crayon and paper aren’t satisfying his fascination with letters anymore, I thought it might be the perfect time to offer another alphabet outlet.
- Rocks (I used a bag of the smooth river rock you find at a craft store…or at Walmart for a couple bucks)
- Acrylic paint
- Paint pen
- Clear Coat Spray Paint
1. Paint a circle of acrylic paint in the center of each rock. I planned for 1 capital letter and 2 lowercase for most of the letters. However, for the frequently used vowels such as “a” and “e”, I allowed for 4 rocks each.
2. Once the paint is dry, write the letters on the rocks with the paint pen.
3. When the letters are dry. Top coat the rocks with a quick spray of clear coat.
A few things worth mentioning:
I had a difficult time getting the paint pen (I also tried Sharpie…thin, thick tip didn’t matter) to write neatly on the rocks. It kept cutting out on me. The pen/marker was getting gummed up by the acrylic paint. NEXT time, and there will be a next time (I love these things), I’ll try making them like Cheri did – paint on the letters and OUTLINE with the marker. Then I’ll just be writing on the smooth rock, not the chalky paint.
In addition to the rocks, I am planning to make word cards to go with the set. I thought I could create a card set that would spell out the child’s name, things they are interested in, and pertinent community information (name of their street, school, city, etc.). The colors on the cards would coordinate with the colors of the letters on the rocks. Something like this:
One last mention. My elementary aged Chicken had the wonderful idea of giving these sets as teacher gifts. As one who’s spent some time in the classroom, I would concur that any teacher of young children would appreciate such a gift. Manipulatives offer a fresh approach to learning.