16 Jul 2013

pencil tins

Her artwork has blossomed from those magical  little tadpole shapes with stick arms protruding where ears should be. People have fingers now and lots of them. Lopsided grins and buttons, eyebrows and eyelashes. List making, menu writing and letters to Nana are her everyday work now as she launches herself onto the steep trajectory that is learning the written word. Lines and swirls are morphing into letters. She is beginning to crack the code.

Her conversation is ever interrupted with a cocked head and puzzled gaze, "What letter does that start with Mumma?" Far from the world you'd imagine a teacher's child to live in, no phonics books, flashcards or worksheets have ever entered her domain.  Her insatiable yearning to discover our written language comes from play and play alone.

Imagination has been fostered when colours are swiped on paper, when glue and paint come out to play. Quality tools have been manipulated to strengthen fingers with much block play and building to encourage these digits to work independently of one another. Random shapes and swirls marked on paper have begun to convey a message with experimentation of letter formation using real life print* as inspiration. And above all, the foundations of her literacy learning have been cemented in an abundance of  rich language -everyday conversational language, sing songy and rhythmic nursery rhyme language and effervescent, enchanting picture book language.

Quietly I have been tucking away thrifted  Milly Molly Mandy books and casting my mind's eye over the towering collection of Enid Blyton's slumbering safely in my parents' garage. Old bills, notes and scraps of paper are being collected and cut into child friendly sizes to be stapled into books for my budding authoress. A beautiful alphabet chart may be purchased some time soon but for now she will find her way to literacy in the best possible way  - slowly, deeply and through play.

Steph x

I made some vintage wallpaper covered pencil tins to hold all my honey girl's tools. Large tins of diced tomatoes were purchased and their contents frozen in one cup portions for later use. After thoroughly cleaning  the tins, scraps of vintage wallpaper were cut long enough to wrap around the tin with a few centimetres overlap and wide enough to hang about 4-5 centimetres over the top. Using a hot glue gun the wallpaper was attached to the tin. Small snips were made along the top stopping at the top of the tin. These pieces were folded down and glued into place to cover the sharp edge. The tins were then screwed onto the side of her desk and filled with an array of stationary delights. Her pencils are are now easily accessible for all sorts of creating and also easy to put away.

*Real life print refers to the writing on cereal packets, tins and jars, Mumma' shopping lists, calendars and birthday party invitations, dockets, cards and writing on everyday items.


  1. These pencil tins are amazing! Great idea!

  2. Those are adorable. I remember making similar as a young child in school, although plain with that contact book wrap stuff. These looks so much more fun!

  3. So pretty! Great idea! Love your blog, just found it. xx

  4. Real life is the perfect literacy stepping stone isn't it?! cute tins clever mama. x

  5. Those are lovely. I recall creating comparable like a child in school, even though simple with this speak to e-book cover stuff. These kinds of seems so much more exciting! runescape gold
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  6. I desperate for Lottie and Arabella to love Milly Molly Mandy, but so far nothing!!! x

  7. Steph these are just beautiful and such a clever idea. What a lucky little possum Bijou is to have a clever Mum like you:) I hope that your week has been a wonderful one lovely. xx

  8. I've seen a number of gorgeous crafts made of vintage wallpaper lately. Where are people finding this stuff?! Since I moved, I've been surfing the crafting community Kollabora for decor inspiration, and I think your creations would make lovely additions to the site! Those yellows in your most recent post ... I swooned.

    1. I have been very lucky to find the odd roll of vintage wallpaper at the flea market but otherwise you can get sheets of beautiful ones on etsy. It's such a lovely medium to work with! I've never heard of Kollabora and thanks to your lovely words I will most certainly hop over and have a potter. Thanks so much for your lovely comment...what a lovely way to start my day :) xx


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