Sweet Pea is 27 months old.
- Several washed and dried caps from gallons of milk.
- Mod Podge.
- Small paintbrush.
- 2-3 Milk Cap Alphabet Sheets (.pdf file requires Foxit or Adobe Acrobat).
- Elmo Big Bird and Bert Nameplates (.pdf file requires Foxit or Adobe Acrobat).
- Abby Cookie Zoe Ernie Nameplates (.pdf file requires Foxit or Adobe Acrobat).
- Stickers or printed pictures of Sesame Street characters that are about 2 inches tall. (I used a set of stickers that I found in the party favor aisle at Target. If you have a color printer, you can probably find pictures on the web to print.)
- A laminator or press and seal lamination pockets.
- Basket or bowl for storing the milk cap letters.
- Create the nameplates.
- Cut the nameplates into individual rectangular strips. Note that name “Big Bird” should all be on one strip.
- Apply a sticker or glue a picture of each Sesame Street character to the left hand side of the correct nameplate.
- Laminate and cut out each nameplate. Round off the corners of the laminated nameplates if they are sharp.
- Decoupage the letters to the milk caps.
- Cut out the letters you wish to use from the letter template sheet. You don’t need to do all of the letters, just the ones you will be using on the nameplates you create.
- Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on the top of one milk cap and set aside.
- Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on the back of one of the letters.
- Stick the letter to the top of the milk cap and paint a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top.
- Let the letters dry overnight and then put them in a basket.
- Present the activity to your tot.
- Select which nameplate you are going to use first and find all of the milk cap letters that will be used with it. Leave the rest of the letters in the basket.
- Put the selected nameplate in front of your tot.
- Randomly put the milk cap letters that go with that nameplate on the table within your tot’s reach.
- Point to the first letter on the nameplate (“E” in ELMO for example) and say, “We need to find the “E” that goes here.
- Carefully search through the possible letters, saying each letter as you move your finger over it. “M… no not that one. E.. That’s right!”
- Pick up the correct letter and put it on the nameplate.
- If your tot needs extra help, ask them to find the next letter (“Can you find an L?”) and so on until they understand the game.
Observations: Sweet Pea was, of course, thrilled to do anything that involved her beloved Elmo. However she only briefly played with this the first time I introduced it. She was very interested in the Sesame Street characters, but didn’t really want me to show her what to do with the letters. We have played with these a few times since then and she has started to enjoy matching up the letters. She spends longer with them each time and I think really likes them now.
We also made personalized nameplates for Sweet Pea and some of her family members. Sweet Pea loves seeing photos of people she knows so this was a big hit too. The blogs I linked at the beginning of this post have more of an explanation on how to make your own customized ones if you are interested in that.
Notes from the Trenches: Some people have been having trouble with the milk cap letters sticking together. Someone told me that the Hardcoat Mod Podge doesn’t have that problem, but I haven’t tested it. You can also spray the letters with a a clear acrylic sealer on top of the Modge Podge if you are having a problem with stickiness.
I’ve been making the milk cap letters in batches. I did about 8 letters to start for ELMO and ABBY and then made up another set of letters after I had saved up enough to complete a couple more nameplates.
I recommend making duplicate letters if you will be using them for more than one nameplate. For example, you should make 2 of the letter E if you have created both the ELMO and COOKIE nameplates. Sweet Pea preferred insisted on keeping all the milk cap letters on every nameplates. I couldn’t get her to remove the E from ELMO to use on COOKIE.
At the begining I tried just using a basket of all the letters and letting Sweet Pea search through them to match up with the selected nameplate, but this was too hard for her. When first starting out, I suggest only presenting the letters that can go on a particular nameplate.
As usual, this activity had an unexpected ending. After playing with the nameplates for a bit, Sweet Pea then grabbed the letter “D”, jumped up and started chasing our dog around the room with it. She kept repeating “D” “Duh Duh” Dog” as she attempted stick the letter onto our poor collie. I snapped this photo shortly before I had to intervene.
Rating: 2 Stars * (Fun, Independent)