A few weeks ago, I came across a pin linking me to a fun looking Pound-A-Pattern toy. The pinner had helpfully noted that this toy consisted essentially of a piece of foam, a toy hammer, and golf tees. I was inspired! (Even though my kid is only 3, not the "8 and up with adult supervision" suggested on the product page!)
Here's how I made an equivalent
- Plastic Hammer (on hand)
- Colored wooden golf tees ($5 for 100 on eBay: I expect you could get a smaller package for less at the local sports shop)
- Two 7x3x3 green floral foam blocks (Dollar Tree, $1/ea)
- Brownie Pan at least 8x8 to contain the mess (Dollar Tree)
- Number dot templates (free download from this link; find lots more dot templates linked here)
- Laminator (technically optional, but not if you want to reuse your templates!)
- A very long handled hole punch, or equivalent - I have a punch you use with a mat and a hammer
- Duct tape
Putting it Together
I printed out my number templates, cut them apart, added some color with markers (I don't have a color printer!), and then laminated them. I then used my punch to put a hole in each dot. Again, my standard squeeze hole-punch wasn't long enough to reach everything, so I had to use my hammer punch. (An older child might be able to use the tees to punch right through unlaminated paper, if you want to save yourself that step. I don't think my kid could manage it, though.)
I considered using glue to attach the two foam blocks, but my 3-year-old was really excited to get started, and besides, I hate glue! So I used a couple of loops of duct tape. Not perfect, but good enough.
Immediately recognizing how crumbly the foam is, I popped the whole thing in a Dollar Tree brownie pan - which has the added advantage of containing the golf tee "nails."
My 3-year-old Loves it! He immediately got the idea of using the hammer to pound in the golf tees, and worked through 6 or 7 numbers on his first session. He's starting to recognize them and also count, so this was really a good learning activity.
Of course, I really don't want golf tees scattered about the house, and frankly he's not quite responsible enough with the hammer to let him have access to it full time either, so this will remain a supervised activity for the foreseeable future. And certainly the blocks won't last forever before they're too holey. But I am sure we can rotate through all four surfaces, and they're not terribly expensive after we've done that. Some sorts of packaging Styrofoam may be a reasonable - and free - substitute.
I am considering creating some more punched templates with pictures and shapes - see links above for a good list of resources. Just be prepared to use an image editor (like Gimp, free) to resize anything originally made for pom-poms so they'll fit on the 6x7 play surface.
By the way, last week I put together a pom-pom activity very similar to the one described here on Sew Fantastic, and both the 2-year-old and the 3-year-old love it!