Coolest Preschool Toy EVER – I Spy Alphabet Shaker Jar

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While I have been busy preparing Jeremiah’s “school year” (he is 3 1/2 so it’s pretty loose, focus on basics – ABCs, 123s, colors (secondary ones, he knows all primary and few others), shapes (again, knows the basic ones) and starting some writing; I have found the coolest websites ever!!

It is sooo hard to start mentioning any that I have recently subscribed to/bookmarked for fear of leaving out someone. But I will always give credit where credit is due.

I already knew what I wanted to do this year. It’s just that I was bookmarking so many sites for each thing. Then I found everything I wanted in one place. How cool is that? Erica has developed Letter of the Week Curriculum. And I absolutely LOVE what I see. For each letter, there are tons of activities. And I especially love the writing printables. They include a pre-writing exercise, a phonetic picture and then the upper and lower case letters with the directional arrows to help. Not overwhelming and all on one sheet. I decided to buy the download which is only $10 and I get it now. I am pretty impatient. Plus, if I get so much resources from one place, I like to pay them something, otherwise, even if it’s free, I feel like I am stealing. But she clearly states they are free and you can daily go and print what you need. I just like to get it all done at once and have it in one place.

Then I found how to make one of our favorite all time toys – an I Spy shaker. I remember years ago finding this cool toy at a toy boutique and bought it for an upcoming trip. Kept the kids busy in the car for hours. This is a homemade version and I put all the letters of the alphabet and numbers 0-9 in it. This awesome idea came from Mama-Jenn here.

First, I laid out all the goodies: an empty plastic jar, glue, rice and what you are going to put in the shaker. I found these plastic alphabet charms (realized when opened, they also contain numbers!) at Walmart. I think it was less than $4 and I have enough to make bunches. (I am thinking door prize at my next homeschool mom’s meeting, and Christmas presents for the nephews).

Then of course, you have to dig out the entire alphabet letters. Here, I discovered that I also had numbers and grabbed those out too. Fill the jar about 3/4 with rice, then add your letters/number (think shapes, animals, whatever else you can find – it’s like a scavenger hunt in a jar!). Screw the lid on and determine if you need to add more rice, remember there needs to be room to shake the rice around. I opted to leave about 1 inch of space.

Then I decided that I really like the charms. I didn’t like the little holder on top but these were all I could find. So I tried to see if I could cut of the tips. And I could!! very easily too.

I ended up adding the tips back to the jar just to add a little extra color.

Once it is exactly how you want it, glue the lid on. You really don’t want a preschooler opening this and spilling it out everywhere.

I am soo,soooo, sooooo happy with this. Even the older kids are having fun with it.

Thanks Mama-Jenn for the fabulous idea. And she has tons others!!


This was posted by guest blogger Adena. Adena blogs over at Food, Fun and Fotos ( and is a homeschool mom of five kids (ranging from 4 to 21!). She is trying to juggle being a part

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time college student, working at home and all of her varied hobbies – sewing, crafts, baking, photography. Right now she is consumed with a weight loss challenge – 100 lbs to lose, please send encouragement to her!

Thanks for your guest blog post Adena. I cannot wait to make this with the boys. They’ll love it!

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  1. Funny how the most basic things (boxes) can’t spark a kids imagination. This is also a great idea to teach ABCs & 123s.

  2. Thanks for this link and the ideas. I teach a Joy School/ Summer School group and have been wondering what to plan for the summer lessons. I can’t wait to check out the website.

    I do have a question for you have you looked into k-12 stuff at all? How long do you plan on homeschooling your children?


  3. I bought the Letter of the Week curriculum also and can’t wait to really get started with it. Blaze is also 3.5 so I will be starting dialy with “school” when the new school year starts. We already do a lot of learning activities but not much structured activities so it will be a little different. I have an I Spy bag but this is so neat and I think i will have to make one. You could do a series of them too. Like animals, numbers, letters, shapes and so on. Very cool. Thanks.

I would LOVE to hear from you!

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