Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Alphabet Quiet Book: N is for Note

This post is the sixteenth 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.

N is for Note
When you have a mailbox, it's fun to be able to write real notes to be able to fold and seal in the envelope! I made sure to arrange my N is for Note page on the same page spread as M is for Mail so the girls can do just that. Here's a photo strip illustrating exactly how it works.

Write the letter, fold it in thirds, tuck it in an envelope, place the envelope in the mailbox, and raise the flag so the mailman knows to pick it up and deliver it!

Inspiration and Page Design
Placing a notepad opposite a mailbox is a common quiet book feature. Most of the examples I found had a plain pocket for a notepad and another for a pen or crayons, with no other decoration. I wanted to come up with something a little more pictorial since it would have to go with our flower garden mailbox page, so I thought about what sort of setting would be appropriate for note writing. Immediately I thought of the desks in our school room, where the girls most often sit to write notes or color pictures.

We have four complete old-fashioned desks in our school room, the kind with cast-iron legs and folding seats and everything. The desktop pictured above is the beautifully graffitied one that I grew up with. Even though there are plenty of desks to choose from, the girls often sit double in this one, since it's the only one with a window view. I decided to base our Note page on this desk, minus the graffiti.

I immediately knew that I wanted to use a wood grain fabric as the background, and have a pen on the pencil rest at the top, and a hole for the inkwell. I enlarged the N in the word ink, emphasizing that ink also includes the letter N. A ruler, apple, paperclips, and pushpins seemed like the other logical desk paraphernalia to include, to add color an interest to the page. Annie especially loves the pushpins, probably because they're the most colorful part of this mostly monochromatic page.

The pen is attached with ribbon to the page, and slides into ribbon loops around the "pencil groove" at the top of the page. I should have made at least three ribbon loops instead of the two I made, since the pen is prone to sliding out.

Although I thought it would be appropriate to make the notebook pocket and letters N & n with lined notebook paper fabric, it took an embarrassingly long time for me to realize I didn't need to buy fabric with blue lines printed to it. I could just take a piece of plain white fabric (I have a white sheet I cut from any time I need solid white fabric) and stitch my own blue lines to it. So easy, so cheap, and so effective.

The ruler is yellow felt painted with black fabric paint, something I generally have avoided in this quiet book because unlike embroidery, paint comes with the danger of peeling. On this scale, however, paint made sense, showed the details better, and was much faster.

This is also the only page where I didn't embroider the word of the page (here, "Notes") onto the fabric itself. It looked more natural to me to simply write, in basic script, the word "Notes" onto the top page of the notebook.

Preschool goals for using the Notes page
My goals for the notes page were the same as for the mail page. During the weeks we worked on the letters M and N, and in all the subsequent weeks, Annie has been practicing writing notes to friends and family, happily copying letters I write for her, even though she can't read yet the words she's writing yet. Sometimes she writes strings of letters on the blackboard and then asks me, "Mama, what does this say?" I think she's very close to being ready to learn to read, which is very exciting for both of us.

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