J is for Jelly Beans
I love jelly beans. I also (maybe even more) love the look of vintage gumball machines. I remember as a child visiting the county historical museum and buying marbles for a penny in the vintage gumball machine in the gift shop. Even then, being able to buy anything for a penny was super exciting. And now we have a free-standing gumball machine in our school room, filled with felted bouncy balls. I think that gumball machine is older than I am since I found it in my grandparent's basement a number of years ago, and they didn't have any idea where it came from. It runs on dimes, and had a couple Chiclets in the bottom when I cleaned it out.
Anyway, since we already set aside the letter G for Giraffe and Goat, I decided to fill our gumball machine with jelly beans (Jelly Belly style), and put it on the J page.
Inspiration and Page Design
I first got the idea to do J is for Jelly Beans from Hippos and Dinosaurs. Although I liked the idea of being able to fill the machine up with jelly beans, and even spent a while trying to figure out how to make the jelly beans come down the chute, eventually I decided the virtue of no loose parts trumped another interactive feature to the page.
In my version, you can turn the knob, prod the jelly beans around through the I-spy vinyl pocket, try to guess how many jelly beans are in the jar, and (especially for my preschoolers) name the specific colors and flavors of the jelly beans. But more on that later.
When rummaging through my bags of leather scraps to find pieces for the face plate, I came across a piece of shiny, copper- colored leather, just the color of an old penny. I cut a penny-sized circle from it, wrote 1¢ with a ball-point pen, gave it several coats of clear fingernail polish, and super-glued it to the tan leather rectangle.
For the turn-mechanism, I cut out and shrunk a piece of shrink film plastic in the shape of a spinner knob. Then I found a plain round wooden button (and another one for the top of the jelly bean machine), and spray painted all three with silver paint. I added a washer, and the whole spinner assembly turns freely, although it's a little bulky.
I've been trying to include each of my girls' names on their letter page (see A is for Abacus... and Annie), but I couldn't come up with any clever way to put Jenny's name into the jelly bean page. So in the end, I just embroidered, "Jelly Beans for Jenny" as the title.
Preschool goals for using the Jelly Beans page
Jelly bean week was even more fun than ice cream week! I bought a bag of "gourmet jelly beans" (Jelly Belly knock-offs), and we ate a few every day. Before I'd give jelly beans to the girls, they had to name the color, and take a guess at the flavor of each little jelly bean. I tried to introduce some unusual colors, although the main one I remember the girls learning that week was "chartreuse." Annie got a fun alphabet book called The Other Colors for Christmas, and it would have been a great one to pair with our jelly bean color and flavor explorations.