A year or so ago, I ordered a phonics program for Firecracker called "Happy Phonics" which was developed by Diane Hopkins a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. It was recommended by my friend Lisa. As soon as I heard about it, I knew it was for Firecracker...instead of workbooks and things this program helps kids practice phonics concepts through a series of games. Firecracker is the type to think a workbook is fun for about 2 minutes and then want to do something else. Anyway, Happy Phonics has exceeded our expectations, so if anyone out there is looking for a phonics program, you should check it out.
Firecracker has been steadily progressing with her reading, but we haven't worked on her numbers so much. She knows all of them, but doesn't "read" numbers well, so I wanted something that would help her match a written number up with the concept of it. The game from the phonics program worked so well for teaching her to match her upper and lowercase letters that I thought we'd try something similar for her numbers. Anyway, the inspiration for these sweet cupcakes came from the first game in the program...as in this is basically a felt version of the game, modified on the other side for numbers.
Materials: Felt, scissors, thread, permanent marking pen
I drew cupcake patterns on paper and cut them out. Then I used the pattern to cut out 26 bottoms and 26 tops of one color. Then cut out 26 rectangles the size of the tops and bottom. I made the second side of the top a different color. It goes faster if fold the felt over on itself and cut out 2 or 3 at a time. Because the felt shifts slightly as you sew, I found it worked the best to cut the shape out of one side, sew it to the second colored rectangle, and then trim the second one to the size of the first. When you sew the tops, I started on one of the lower cornes, sewed around the top, and down to the other lower corner, leaving the lower edge unsewn, so the bottoms can tuck up inside the tops just a bit. I sewed the cupcake bottoms the same way (cut the shape out for one, sew it to the other, and trim), although I sewed all the way around them. I sewed all of these with my sewing machine, but you could make them look even cuter by using a blanket stitch or something around them. Of course you could make these super simple by just doing them one sided and just doing alphabet or numbers, but I think having them sewn will make them more durable...at least with my kids. :)
On one side of the tops (the pink side in my case), I drew "sprinkles" with colored permanent markers. You could also use emboidery thread or fabric pens. You want to be careful here, not to let the marker soak through to the second side. I did 0-10 sprinkles and then started repeating to use up all 26 cupcakes. Then on the bottoms, I wrote the numbers 0-10 (and repeats) to match the tops. Then I flipped them over and put the uppercase letters on top and the lowercase letters on the bottom.
The kids were thrilled with them. Boy could hardly leave them alone and kept "eating" them. He's at the right place to be beginning to practice matching his letters now, and it's helping Firecracker with her numbers. If I'd had a little more foresight, I would have made the muffin bottoms just a tad smaller so they would fit in our play muffin tins. Firecracker went to get our real muffin tins out though and had fun with those. Since these are felt, they have the added benefit of being able to go on our flannel board. I also made a quick giant cupcake to hold them. I sewed the top and bottom together for the back. Then layed the top and bottom of the front over those and sewed around the whole thing. This made and envelope for the small cupcakes to be able to be tucked inside through the top and bottom on the "pink" side.
I introduced these felt cupcakes to Firecracker and her friend after reading them the book Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann recommended by Christianne at Little Page Turners. I'll let you go there for a run down of the book, but the kids LOVED it, especially since we followed everything up by making these VERY pink cupcakes. Since our kids are more in love with purple than pink, they opted for purple frosting, but aren't these beauties?!? We made the purple by mixing pink and blue to give two kids a chance to add coloring and also for a quick lesson on mixing colors. (You could read Purplicious for that if you wanted to. (We read it later, but not as part of our "preschool" for the day.) I think the orange sprinkles gave them just the right finishing touch. If you're interested in making your own pink cupcakes, we made used a "white cake" mix and then added some Wilton pink coloring paste to it. Sweet Pea even got in on the pink cupcake fun when she found one of the paper wrappers and ate half of it before Daddy found her and took what remained of it away.