Educational toy stores take a close second behind book stores on my list of favorite places to shop. When we were shopping not that long ago at one downtown, I spied a little toy that I just couldn’t get out of my head. Just because its price tag was higher than I was willing to pay, doesn’t mean I wanted to deprive my son of the experience it could provide. I don’t know what it was called, but I’ve named my DIY version the Twist-a-Letter Word Maker.
What you need:
- 1 ¼-inch plastic PVC pipe, cut with a hacksaw to about 12 inches long (costs about $2)
- An empty paper towel tube
- 1 sheet of sticker paper
- 2 rubberbands
- A 1-inch by 8-inch strip of heavy-duty laminate (I used a scrap from another project)
- Exacto cutting blade
- Fine-tip black permanent marker
TIP: Take your paper towel tube to the home improvement store with you. It should fit very snugly over the pipe. If it doesn’t, you haven’t found the right size. My hubby kindly cut ours, but you might ask if an employee at the store could cut yours while you’re there.
Once your PVC tubing has been cut, slide the paper towel tube over it. Now print the PDF I made with letters on it onto a sheet of sticker paper; cut the columns of letters where indicated. Keep the strips in order. Wrap the end with the excess paper first, so the end of the strip with the letters closest to it overlaps the plain paper. Wrap the first strip around the paper towel tube next to the tube’s left edge.
Carefully use an Exacto knife to cut the paper-towel tube right next to the edge of the sticker paper you just applied. Once it has been cut, add the next strip to the remaining piece of the tube. Make sure the letters are right-side up. Continue to use the strips as a guide and cut until all the lettered sticker columns have been applied to the tube and cut into rings.
Now draw an open rectangle (mine was approximately ¾-inch by 6-inches) with permanent marker in the middle of your strip of lamination. Place this over the top of your lettered rings on the PVC pipe and use rubberbands on either end to hold the lamination in place. Now you can rotate the lettered rings and align them inside the rectangle to make words. All that’s left to do is hand it over to your child.
Set the timer and let the word-making begin!
I gave my son seven minutes to see how many words he could make. When the timer went off, he had 10 words on the page.
Next time we “play” with the Twist-a-Letter Word Maker, my son can work on beating his 10-word score!