Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Alphabet Quiet Book: M is for Mail

This post is the fifteenth in a series about the alphabet quiet book I'm making with the girls for preschool this year. To read the introduction, click here, and to read the rest of the posts (updated on a weekly basis) click the "Quiet Book" label on the right.

M is for Mail
This page combines two more classic quiet book themes: The Mailbox, and The Flower Garden. I knew I wanted to include a mailbox so that Annie and I can pass notes to each other through it as she gets better at writing, but most of the mailbox pages I saw seemed kind of plain. I thought it would be pretty to add some flowers as landscaping around the mailbox, and, just for fun, all of the flower names or nicknames start with the letter M as well!

Inspiration and Page Design
The mailbox pattern I used directly, although sized down to 50%, from the mailbox on Imagine Our Life. I freehanded the numbers to match the letters, and stitched them all on by machine. I used a busted hair elastic for the button closure, and a small red eyelet for the flag so that it could swing freely on the button.

I decided one envelope would be enough for our mailbox, but I wanted it to be big enough to include real notes. Although I made the mailbox smaller than the original template, I made the envelope full sized, and it was perfect for the notepaper on the N page. (To see what I mean, you'll have to see the post next week!) For the details on the envelope, I used rick-rack for the address, cut out the stamp with pinking shears, and closed the back of the envelope with a couple squares of Velcro.

I had so many favorite flower inspiration pages that I had trouble settling on which flowers to make and what style to do them with. Finally deciding to make only flowers that begin with the letter M narrowed things down a lot. M isn't the most common letter for flower names, so I had to cheat a little. The white and pink flower at the top is a marshmallow, the red and pink one at the bottom is a mum. The purple one next to it was my biggest stretch. It's a Michaelmas daisy, or an aster. Michaelmas daisy is the English name for asters, but since it's the name that Cicely Mary Barker used in her Flower Fairy book, which is one of our favorites, I thought I could get away with it. The last two flowers are a marigold, and a morning glory.

I got the idea to use a green zipper as a flower stem from this cute flower page. I used a number of shapes from the flower templates on this page. Those were some of my favorite felt flowers, and if I hadn't decided to make flowers that specifically start with the letter M, I might have followed the pattern exactly. I love the detailing on each flower!

While most quiet book flowers button or snap on and off, I didn't really want to make that one of the key features of the page. I felt like it would unnecessarily add loose parts, and distract from the mailbox part of the page. When I found these two pictures on Pinterest, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. Each flower can "grow" up the stem, but not detach from the page! I sewed the loop part of "hook and eye" fasteners to the back of each flower, and it works perfectly. 

Interesting fact: when I was rummaging through my jar of fasteners to find something to work as a slider, I found what looked like a scrap of a vintage bra. I cut the loops out of it, and they were exactly the right size to slide over the ribbon. This illustrates both that you never know when something will come in handy, as long as you save it in an organized manner, and that making these quiet book pages doesn't have to involve a lot of new materials, just a lot of out-of-the-box thinking!

Preschool goals for using the Mail page
When we sewed the M is for Mail page, and the facing N is for Notes pages, Annie wrote and mailed her first letter. She wrote a note to Nonnie (my mom), and then put it in our mailbox and sent it on its way! Since then she's written little notes to her daddy and a couple friends, and she enjoys doing it so much. It's very sweet, and very fun to help her learn how to put letters together, especially since we haven't started formal reading lessons yet. I think those are in our near future, though. We're both excited to be moving past the names and sounds of individual letters to whole words and ideas!

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