Monday, May 31, 2010

Homemade Spinny Speller Tutorial & Giveaway (CLOSED)

~This giveaway is now closed~

I first learned about Spinny Spellers while shopping online in the lovely, but now closed store, Let's Explore. Spinny Spellers are basically blocks on a dowel with letters printed on them. The child spins the blocks around to create basic cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.

Such a fun and simple idea, right? That's what I thought. Then my next thought (as it often is whenever I think about buying something) was - can I make this myself?

I realized I could and after a trip to the craft store I had all the materials I needed to make James a homemade Spinny Speller:

Here's what I bought:
:: Three small 1 inch wooden blocks
:: Two round wooden knobs with pre-drilled holes
:: One 1/4 inch thick wooden dowel

Here's what I did:
I asked my love if he'd very sweetly drill holes into the center of the blocks for me. He, always looking for a good excuse to use his power tools, very sweetly agreed. :) After some trial and error, he finally decided on using the 5/16th drill bit. He also cut the dowel down to 5 inches.

After the holes were drilled, I sanded the blocks to smooth the pointy edges.

Next, I hand painted the blocks using these awesome water soluble crayons.

Then I hand wrote the letters onto the blocks using a permanent marker. I researched common cvc words and decided on the following letters:

::block one: b, c, h, m
::block two: a, e, o, u
::block three: d, g, p, t

This makes quite a few "real" words and several "nonsense" words as well. For us, the point of the Spinny Speller is really just to teach James how to connect the sounds of letters and to realize that in doing this a word is created. Once he gets the hang of that the Spinny Speller will be used as a fun and easy reading tool.

Finally, after the blocks were painted and printed on, I slid them onto the dowel and capped each end of the dowel with a bit of glue and the round wooden knobs.

And that was it! Easy-peasy!!


Of course while I was making this I thought of all you lovely mamas and teachers and decided to make an extra one to give away to one of you! And, as it happens, I have materials still left over after making two Spinny Spellers and I think I'll be whipping up a couple more for birthday gifts as well. :)

So. If you're interested in winning one of my Spinny Spellers (which I'll send in one of my handmade gift bags), please do the following:

:: Leave a comment letting me know what is your child's favorite learning tool. (This could include art and music materials. I'm always looking for interesting things to use with James and I think this could be a great way to share our ideas with one another!)
:: Follow Counting Coconuts and leave me a separate comment letting me know you're following.
:: Blog about this giveaway and leave a separate comment letting me know you've blogged about it.

The giveaway will end at 11pm (Atlantic Time) on Friday, June 4th and Mr. James will randomly choose a winner the following morning. This giveaway is open to everyone - I'll ship anywhere in the world. :)

87 comments:

sippy cup mom said...

That is perfect, I always wanted to purchase on of those. You are so creative! I just posted about your butter making too. Thanks again, Karen

Lisa said...

That's such a neat idea. I think right now, my son's favorite learning materials are his crayons and his sketchpad, which he's using to draw his own Pokemon book. He has some fine motor delays, and in general isn't hugely into drawing and coloring. Since we've been encouraging him to draw what he's interested in, (Pokemon,) he's discovered the joy of drawing.
iluvchrisnlevi@aol.com

CHILDHOOD MAGIC said...

Very cool! You are awesome!!

Me & Marie said...

I follow your blog!

Me & Marie said...

Cute idea! I taught first grade before having my daughter these would have been wonderful! Our favorite learning game is Zingo, by ThinkFun. I found it at Target. Much like Bingo but the slots on the board contain pictures and the word to go with it. We just love it!

Mommy Moment said...

For my second entry - I follow your blog! It is one of my favorites!

(hugs)
Jody

Mommy Moment said...

Am I Lucky #1
These are so lovely!
My daughter loves her Insta-Learn Language Board and Flag works.

Thanks for the chance to win this great giveaway!

(hugs)
Jody

Eva said...

I follow!

Eva said...

awesome!! I've been eyeing those too :) and thinking about making one, thanks so much for the tutorial, and count me in I'd love to win one :D

Powers Fam said...

I need one of these!!! My daughter is at the "what does that spell" stage. Such a cute idea. Sure would be fun to win on my birthday. But if not it gives me an excuse to break out my hubs drill. Thanks for linking at Skip to My Lou!!

Debbie said...

The homemade spinny speller is very cool! Choosing a favorite learning tool is hard! Gabriela's current favorite thing is play-doh. Moriah loves magnetic pattern blocks. Isaac says his favorite is the Mr. Picasso Head website (www.picassohead.com).

Debbie said...

I follow Counting Coconuts! : )

Eva Marina said...

How adorable! I follow your blog on Google Reader. :)

Christy said...

I am a follower!

Christy said...

I would LOVE to win! I have always wanted one of these for my kiddos. My son's favorite learning tool is books. He cannot get enough of them. My daughter's favorite learning tool is anything that has a sensory element - like play dough, writing in shaving cream, sand, etc.

Eva Marina said...

My son is 3 1/2 so he is just now starting to get into more of these "advanced" toys. He likes more of the traditional things right now: puzzles, games (like 'The Zoo I Drew', 'Yahtzee Jr.', Memory and 'Zimboos!'), he loves to read out loud and then draw pictures. He also really gets a kick out of the flash cards I make for him. Thanks for the inspiration!

maiDerin said...

great idea! you are so creative! giveaway, ok but how far is possible? I am in Qatar? :))

The girl who painted trees said...

We tried to make one and our attempt failed(we didn't have a clamp and so the holes were crooked!). Bear LOVES her measuring tape and is constantly saying "let me measure ...."

Richelle said...

This would be great! If I don't win, I might have to try to make one! My son it just learning to read simple words. He has been getting more into coloring and drawing, so loves to try to draw his letters and spell things right now.

The girl who painted trees said...

I follow your blog.
juliecerdas at gmail dot com

The Han Family said...

im also linking you im my blog hanofanewday.blogspot.com

The Han Family said...

i also follow your blog!

The Han Family said...

my childs favorite learnign tol is puzzles, so i have bought letter puzzles, shaps, colors, words ect...as he ages and developes. :) im working on making some on my own! :)

Tammy said...

I follow your blog.

Tammy said...

My daughter's current favourite learning tool is her marble activities (colour sorting, spooning exercise, counting, etc).

Jen said...

You are just amazing, what a fantastic mommy and friend you are! Thank you for sharing this with us!!

1st entry: I follow your blog.

Jen said...

3rd entry: I blogged about this just now!

Jen said...

2nd entry: Thanks to you for telling me about it, our favorite learning toy right now is the peg stackers!

Belledancr - becky said...

Natalie's favorties learning toys right now are her milk cap letters with word sheets I made up of her favorite characters and also her Discovery Toys busy bugs (i bought at a garage sale!)
Nurturingnaters.blogspot.com
love your creativity!
becky

Our family nest said...

this was on my list of stuff to make! I'd love to win one, seeing as i've never gotten around to making one!

vanessa @ silly eagle books said...

I follow you!

mysillyeagle@gmail.com

vanessa @ silly eagle books said...

My daughter loves books!

mysillyeagle@gmail.com

Susan W said...

What a fantastic idea! If I'm not lucky enough to win, I might need to talk my hubby into making one of these for Ellie! She loves paints...I try to give her as many new ways to explore paint as I can (using yarn, rocks, potatoes, sponges, etc). In the end, she always loves using her fingers!

Susan W said...

I am following your blog now too! Really glad I stumbled across this space a few weeks back, you have such wonderful ideas :)

Nicole said...

And girl, you totally know I follow your blog! ;)

Nicole said...

Oooh - I'd love to win! I think Short Pants' favorite learning material is his continent boxes. He's learned so many things about geological features, animals, and culture from them. As for Pita Pocket I think his fave learning material right now is legos!

Kama said...

i subscribe to your blog

Kama said...

awesome! i defintely want this!! my guy's favorite dvd to use is baby signing time by hooked on phonics. i have even learned some!

erin said...

Would love spinny speller. My daughter and son both really love hands on things. My daughter adores painting. So I'm often searching different things she can paint or paint on. We've painted fabric, wood, paper... all kinds of things. :-)

erin said...

i'm a follower

Sunshine Mama said...

I already follow :)

Sunshine Mama said...

Very cool, I've never seen one of those before. I think right now, the learning method my son (4 1/2)responds to the best is conversation with visual aids. For example, he picked a book about planes today at the library and we read it tonight at bed time. it was talking about different kinds of planes and my sone asked me what a crop duster was. That got us talking about not only what it does, but how bad pesticides are for us and the environment, which got us talking about organic farming, etc.
I love how eager he is to understand things!

Montessori Bee said...

The spinny speller would come at just the right time for my little one who is trying to sound out everything and LOVES silly words! Our favorite learning tool now is the great outdoors. It is finally warm here in Pennsylvania and we're out digging, hiking, gardening and learning so much about our planet!
becky818@yahoo.com

Montessori Bee said...

I am now officially a follower, although you've been in my reader for a long time and my day is a bit more exciting when I see a new Counting Coconuts post!
becky818@yahoo.com
ps In my spare time(??) I carry around a basket full of felt fish you've inspired me to embroider for a counting work.

Cheryl said...

I'm now a follower too:)

Cheryl said...

We've gotten a lot of use out of a chalkboard book that the kids trace shapes & letters on. This would be a great tool to have!

Melissa said...

I love this idea and it's perfect for my son who needs some help with his phonics this summer.

He LOVES art using any media especially scissors or playdough being the top two.

Check out my summer teaching ideas as well. My first post was done on numbers making a puzzle out of it so it's self correcting.

Rusheika said...

Hi my friend.. haven't seen you for a while! Did you get the blocks locally? I have been looking for them... let me know where you got them. Thanks! Hope all is well :)

Lindsay said...

I Follow Counting Coconuts :-)

Lindsay said...

First off your amazing!! Second off I totally want to win this! Sammy's favorite learning tool is anything hands on and messy. So paint, playdough, dirt, etc. He is very tactile in learning!

Erika said...

I'm a follower & subscribe to your blog :-)

Erika said...

Scotty LOVES playing his drums, maracca (sp?) and tambourine. Very fun to beat out while we learn poems.

Susan said...

I follow Counting Coconuts.....

Susan said...

Right now, Sophie's favorite educational material is her magnifying glass. She carries it around with her everywhere and examines everything she comes in contact with. She likes to identify insects that she sees, colors/shades and the subtle texture differences.
Who knew such a small thing would provide so much learning and inquisitiveness for her?

welcome to our wonderland said...

I follow in google reader

my 4 year olds favorite learning toy: her homemade puffy paint letters (a variation of sandpaper letters, puffy paint was easier to make) and her homemade alphabet picture cards (a knock off of lakeshore learning) for montessori beginning sound activities

The Mom I Want To Be said...

I follow :)

The Mom I Want To Be said...

What a neat idea! Thanks for the giveaway! My son's current favorite is our geoboards. He even used large rubberbands and turned his dresser knobs into a giant geoboard that doubles as a harp!

MommyToTwoBoys said...

I follow your blog! Have learned lots from it!!!

MommyToTwoBoys said...

My ASD son LOVES water! Hoses, water tables, spray bottles, anything to do with water. I know that is not really a learning tool, but it is definitely a sensory lifesaver for us!

Jen said...

What a great idea! And I love things made by hand - no worries about lead paints!! I hope I win one but if not I'll have to make a trip to the craft store some time. My DD is almost 3 so younger than James but loves Duplo blocks and Haba Eeny Miny Miney block (animal blocks) - these were a splurge item we got her for Christmas. They can put the animal "heads" on different "body" blocks and make silly animals.

Rebecca said...

I follow!

Rebecca said...

Id love to win this! Um, my sons favorite learning toys are usually any kind of manipulative. Especially puzzles though.

Elise said...

For a second entry, I follow your blog and really enjoy my visits here. You are inpirational.

Elise said...

You are so clever. Favourite learning tools here are: books, puzzles and felt boards.

Good on you for making your own - that is so special for James. You are so generous to make extra ones and give them away. Thank you for this opportunity Mari-Ann.

Montessori Beginnings said...

Of course I follow your blog : )

Montessori Beginnings said...

L would love this. If I don't win I'll have to follow your tutorial.LOL
L's favorite learining tool. I guess I'd have to say nature. L loves anything to do with outdoors and there are so many opportunities to learn about things in her environment.

Haas & Co. said...

I am a follower of your blog!

Haas & Co. said...

Love these, how adorable and such a great idea. Our children love to learn through song. Nothing too unique and we are not fabulous vocalists but they have learned a lot this way.

Susan said...

Oh, you just saved me a bunch of work. I bought these large foam cubes to make C-V-C dice. Thought we'd play a game ...roll the dice and sound out the word. YEA! Thanks! Great Tutorial too. Well, I'd have to say YouTube is one of my favorite learning tools. Do I get an extra entry if I say your blog? LOL!

Elizabeth said...

I would have to say they my girls favorite learning tool is the kitchen. We are always baking and cooking, incorporating math, health, nutrition, science, gardening, geography, and so much more. Thanks for the chance to win the spinny speller. You are so creative.

Tanya said...

Just found you via "A Hug in a Mug"! My sons favourite learning tool presently is his lacing cards...he's very fine motor! My daughters is definitely play dough!! Love the great hints and tricks here :)

Martha said...

I am now a follower, so this is my 2nd comment. :)

Martha said...

I am new to your blog, but I love your fun ideas! My 2 year old's favorite learning toys are his alphabet magnets.

April said...

I am a new follower of your blog...I am already devouring your archives!

April said...

I am always think to myself..."how can I make this myself?". My favorite learning tools are art supplies and a felt board. I really need a bigger felt board though. The spiny speller you made is so cute ;).

Summer said...

Thanks for linking up! I featured your idea on my blog today! Come grab a featured button!

http://sumossweetstuff.blogspot.com/2010/06/saturday-showcase.html

Alison said...

I ADORE this idea! It's so clever! My son is only 15 months, but I think I want to make this anyway! Fabulous idea.

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Oh, I'm so sorry I missed the giveaway! I saw something like this a while back and thought "surely I could make that..." and you DID! Awesome! I linked to this on my weekly roundup - thanks so much for sharing!

Jenn @ Delicious Ambiguity said...

Thanks for linking up to Tot Tuesdays! You always have such great ideas. I hope you’ll join me again next week for another fantastic party! Have a great week!

Ima said...

Hi Mari-Ann,
This spinny speller is such a good idea, so when I didn't win your giveaway, I decided to make one myself. In my case it was my dad who was happy to use his powertools again.;)
Just one question: how did you research common cvc-words? I would like to 'translate' the speller into Dutch, but I'm not sure how to find the best letters to use.
Thank you for your help.

Jessie said...

I know the giveaway is over, but I wanted to tell you that I'm making these now :) I found an etsy seller who would drill 5/8" bead cubes for me. I can't wait to get going!!!

shaista said...

hi you have done marvellous job ,my son loved this site ,he is going to kindergarden ,my son is 6 1/2 years old now help me out to teach him word building of 3 letters 4 letters and 5 letters.you can amity university happyhours phonic readers which he have to learn ,he know all phonic sounds i have done montessori course with the help of that iam teaching him at home by montessori method,but still he can't join sounds and make a word.

sarah said...

I love it! My daughter's favorite thing is her sensory tub which we modeled after a few of yours. She also loves her play kitchen, and while it's not necessarily a learning tool we do a lot of learning while playing in there. I put all of her stuff on the couch and she grocery shops and then has to pay for everything and then take it all "home" and put it all away, oddly enough that is her favorite thing to do.

Julie Rhodes said...

Just wanted to say thanks for posting all the measurements! Im making these as a busy bag project (props and praises to my husband and grandfather for doing all the cutting and drilling). I made 15 total and i think they are going to be a big hit. (Also, I originally had them as 5 inches long but that was wayyyyy too long so now ours are about 4 inches. )

Kristin Mullen said...

Great idea! I usually lose the small blocks that I make with the letters and this is perfect to keep track of the blocks and make it so much easier for students to use.

wildflowerramblings said...

Hi, did you use wood glue to connect the balls to the long dowel? Thanks :)

Counting Coconuts said...

Wildflowerramblings - it's been a couple of years now, so I can't remember EXACTLY what we used, but I'm quite sure it wasn't wood glue (too hard to come by here on the island), so I'm guessing it was super glue.

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