Found a broken printable link? Check my Free Printables page. All the links there are redirected and fixed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On the Cheap (collect no junk) Letter and Number Tiles

I've been scouring the internet for $1 per bag swap friendly ideas for the upcoming busy bag swap, which by the way, I hope to have organized and posted by next Monday night. I'm
finding a lot of ideas. However, some of them require recycling "junk"... bottle caps, milk
lids, egg cartons, juice cans, etc. This works great if you're making one set for yourself,
but multiply that by the number of bags for a swap, and it would take you years to collect
enough junk.

Take for example, these very clever milk cap letter tiles from Totschool. Very awesome idea to reuse
something that you would otherwise throw away. But you would need 26 caps for the entire
alphabet. Multiply that by 30 sets, and you would need 780 milk caps. If your family goes
through two gallons of milk a week, it would take you 7 and a half years to collect enough
milk caps for a swap.

So I racked my brain for a better idea, and here's what I came up with...

For 30 sets, you will need:
8 EZ Felt Sheets (for alphabet tiles) OR
6 EZ Felt Sheets (for 1-20 number tiles)
4 (?) small bottles of white Puffy Paint

The EZ Felt is a very stiff felt that comes in 12x16 sheets and costs 79 cents a sheet at
Hobby Lobby. You can get 108, 1.25" tiles from each sheet. That's a little over 4
alphabets or a little over 5 number sets (1-20) per sheet.

I love the look of circles, but knowing that, if I were cutting 30 sets of tiles, I'd rather
not have to cut all those circles, I decided on  1.25" squares.

I tried to use my little Fiskars paper trimmer to cut the squares. The blade was not long
enough to cut all the way through, but it did an awesome job scoring straight lines. I
barely had to open and close the scissors... just slide it along the scored lines. If you
have a more heavy duty paper cutter, I'm sure it would slice right through the felt nicely.

Once I had my squares cut, I got out my puffy paint and started handwriting class all over
again. You may want to practice a tiny bit on a sheet of paper before you dive in, just to
get a feel for how fast the paint will squeeze out.

You'll want to lay these out in a place where you can leave them for several hours (or
overnight) to dry.

Once completed, try not to stack them puffy paint to puffy paint, as it will take several
days for the paint to cure completely, and you don't want them sticking to each other.

So there you have it, alphabet and number tiles inexpensively created without having to
save milk caps for the rest of your life.

You can use these tiles with the printable alphabet, counting, and spelling cards available on my printables page, under "Busy Bags".


  1. You could also use cardstock and laminate.

    1. Can you laminate the puffy paint?

  2. I'm going to make these with cardstock and laminate them. Great idea!!

  3. Love this idea!! But, I went to print out the bug counting cards and the alphabet cards and it said the domain had expired Jan. 27th. Is there any chance it will be up again? Thanks!

  4. I might use foam sheets and Sharpie.

  5. We decided not to renew that domain, since we have other options. I COMPLETELY forgot that all my printables were from that domain. I will transfer them soon.

    Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention.

    Dawn, I have started using Sharpie on the EZ felt as you mentioned. SOOOO much easier.

  6. Plastering tools
    I'm going to create these with material and wood flooring them. Excellent idea!!

  7. ...any idea when the printable word cards link may be up? I am super eager to try this :) Thanks!

  8. Nice idea. My kid is in 4th grade, so past preschool stuff but these are great... also what about addition, subtraction, mult and division tiles... could go in all directions with these for older kids...nouns, pronouns, element tables, English ---> foreign language match ups etc...

  9. Do you think you will do more cards? I would love some that are grit and veggie type!

  10. Hi Brenda,
    Are you still monitoring this website? I would really like to contact you about the Wild Vowels Uno game. If you could get back to me about that, I would be much appreciate it. thank you.
    Mary Beth