Sunday, February 8, 2009

Phonics Swap: Part Two of Three

Kal-El and I had a great time putting together our packages for the phonics swap.  The hardest part was finding the right sized box to send them in, the rest was pure fun.  In addition to our phonics objects we sent two letters to the children we were swapping with.  Because I knew Gigi teaches Spanish at a Montessori school, I wrote one of the letters in very basic Spanish. (Me llamo Kal-El.  Me gusta los carros.  Etc.,  Gigi will have to correct any errors I made in case I do it again.) Our letters had pictures of the boys working with their Montessori materials and we also sent some laminated photos of some of the architectural wonders in our state.  Here is a picture of the phonics objects that we sent:

Our package included the following:
  1. clothespin
  2. compass
  3. doctor
  4. fireman
  5. grapes
  6. lightbulb
  7. ornament
  8. reindeer
  9. snowglobe
  10. tree
  11. walnut/nut (depending on needs)
I realize we sent two items that begin with "C."  The clothespin was an extra I threw in just in case something arrived broken, unloved, or unusable.  The "difficult" letters we used were "o" for ornament, "w" and/or "n" for the nut or walnut.  I was happy that it would cover a difficult letter no matter which way you used it.  The glass ornament could also be re-purposed as an "angel" if they are working on other sounds for "A."  We are currently using "a" as in "at."  Here is a nice video you can watch that demonstrates the phonetic sounds we are using.  I originally found this through Barbara at Mommy Life, but wanted to provide it here directly just in case her post were to become unavailable for some reason.

A couple of the items we sent were plastic.  Some obviously so, some discreetly so.  The doctor and the fireman are "resin" but are hand painted so they don't feel like plastic.  The compass is obviously plastic but I thought it seriously fell into the "cool" category, it actually works (although sometimes you have to jiggle it).  My husband says the grapes are "rubber" not plastic, but I'm not even sure he's right, or that rubber isn't just another name for plastic.  Either way, they feel quite a bit like grapes actually feel and I thought they also were "cool."  My husband also seriously questioned whether I should be sending glass objects.  I argued "yes" for several reasons.  When you are avoiding plastic, that leaves glass as a major alternative.  Montessori students work with glass objects all of the time, in their pouring activities for example, and learning to handle and carry objects with care is a first and important practical life activity.  As it turns out, my husband was right to be concerned, accidents do happen.  You can read about the demise of a snowglobe and its clever salvaging here.

You might have noticed my objects have a slightly "Christmasy" feel.  That is because I struck gold at Stein's Garden's and Gifts a couple of weeks after Christmas.  They had all Christmas items 90% off regular price.  I was able to get $3.99 items for 40 cents and picked up what I hope were some nice things.  The doctor and the fireman, for example, are Christmas village accessories.  Putting a doctor in your Christmas village must not be popular because they had quite a few.  I almost forgot to get one for myself at first (that would have been a bummer) and am proud to have had the foresight to get two more so I'm ready for the next Montessori swap.

The angel, reindeer, and snowglobes are obviously ornaments.  They had racks and racks of the angels and snowglobes because they were "personalized" with names.  I dug through and tried to find the exceptions such as "Mommies little angel" or "Best Teacher" because they would apply regardless.  The little evergreen tree is flocked wire and came in a package with quite a few in it.  Wreaths were available that way as well and I picked up a package for practical life activities.  They don't work for the difficult letter "W" because you don't hear a "W" at the beginning of the word.  They will be fine for the "R" sound in "I spy."  I will definately be back at Steins to do some more Montessori shopping after every major holiday!

It was also possible to find walnuts easily because it was still close to Christmas when I looked.  I had been looking for months for one for Me Too's mystery basket, but they are hard to find out of season.  I bought extra for future swaps however, I don't know if they are usable by kids with nut allergies.  

We can't wait for the next swap!

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