I’m starting my new adventure next week, thankfully with my mother helping to row, and our first group children’s project will be a name craft!! In the spirit of anonymity (no names or faces of the people I love) I decided we will need a mascot. So, without further ado, meet Smiley Face!!!
I don’t know where to put credit for this idea, because I’ve seen several like ideas scattered around Pinterest. When I saw munchkinsandmoms.com is when I settled on it. All I know is that I love it and my kids do, too. Even my nine-year old gave it a, “That’s pretty cool,” after tinkering around with it.
I started by begging the woman in the paint dept. at Wal-Mart for a handful of paint stir sticks. Then I promptly took them home and enlisted my husband to use up a can of spray paint I already had to paint them the pretty turquoise color (remember our pool storage?). I’ve been a sort of rotten mood so I think he may have been glad to score some brownie points!!! He put a coat on each side, then I put another on what will be the backside. The front is mostly covered, so the back is the side the kids will feel against their fingers (I wanted to make triple sure they wouldn’t get splinters!).
Next I used the word processor on my computer to create a table. I set three columns and two rows, then just changed my letter size to 66. The font I used is called TallNBubbly, and you can download it free, along with some fantastic others, via dafont.com. That’s not even necessary, though. I just wanted to make sure the letters were identical. I had planned to make one of the copies a touch smaller for the clothespins but I forgot when making this one. You could just use squares of different colored construction paper and write the letters for your child’s name.
I ended up filling in the letters with a black marker (bottom copy is done, top is not).
When I made the whole lot of them for the group I actually made four columns and six rows for the table, and put their names going down. I made sure that if the child’s name wasn’t six letters long that color block got a shape, boys default was a star, girls a heart…my daughter and one little boy got both. I spent a little extra time and made sure that if they had the same letter in their name twice that it was the same color each time. I put their downs down the columns, so I didn’t have to put each letter on individually. See, a little OCD comes in handy occasionally!
Prepare your stick:
I used a glue stick to attach one set of the letters going down the stick, used scissors (a craft knife would’ve been better) to trim the paper closely to the stick, then covered it with a long piece of wide clear tape. The tape only extended about 1/4 inch on each side around the back, so I was worried with the pins sliding on and off it might catch the edges and peel back. My kids have played with Smiley a lot already and it’s holding down fine!!
Next I used clear tape on the other set (the set that will be glued to clothespins) to give it a sturdier surface. I did both sides on Smiley’s, but the glue took awhile to set well, so for the others I just did the front, and the back was left plain. My twins wanted to play with it right away and I’m hoping our reading group kids will, too, so the sooner they can get at it, the better!! I then used a baby bottle lid to imprint a circle smaller than the height of the square on the stick (So they fit easily within the block) and cut out all the letters.
I also made Smiley a face (It was pretty complicated). Each child will have their own picture atop their name stick.
I gave my twins each a glue stick, the letters, face and clothespins and instructed them to put glue only on the short end (to the metal spring) of the clothes pin and the exposed part at the top of the stick. My son glued his entire pin the first time, but my daughter was particular about not getting it on or past the metal (and promptly corrected him). Both ways were actually fine…it will dry clear…except when they started playing immediately and then my boy did not like the glue on his hands! This summer he’s learned that we will get him cleaned up and he will be fine, so it wasn’t as big a deal as it would’ve been six months ago…or maybe I’m better at having wipes at the ready…
All I did to help them was sort of turn the letters upright a few times. We didn’t really think about which way the clothes pin would go on the stick, and that worked out great!! It’s fun watching them put them on both sides to get it to match right. My daughter trades the stick between hands and uses whichever other hand to clip the pin. My son flips the stick upside down to make sure he’s always working from the right. They both surprised me with their excited revelation that S and I can go on either way…( Can you believe it?!), and how quickly they learned the letter M and that it turns into a whole different letter when you turn it (W…you probably knew that...sorry) .
They don’t have their own name sticks yet, but I know without a doubt that this will definitely help with recognizing their names!! I figure their names are a good place to start teaching how lines, circles and curves make letters, letters make words, then words into sentences. It’s also a super good activity for fine motor skills, building hand muscles, concentration, matching skills and me getting the dishes done!!