Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wilbur - A Favorite Learning Tool

Remember Wilbur of "Charlotte's Web" fame? 
Wilbur is a most versatile format and a favorite of young children.
Turn an old bleach bottle into a "funtastic" learning tool! 

Draw eyes and a mouth with permanent markers.
Add pink felt ears and a pipe cleaner tail.
Use egg carton sections for feet.
Decorate sides as desired.
Cut a slit about 1/4 inch wide across his head, just behind his ears.

These were the old instructions for making Wilbur and I have made many this way. But, like everything else, he got an update.  

This is the original very first Wilbur after his many face-lifts. This guy is around 30 years old. Looks pretty good for his age I think. The permanent marker needs a new paint job every few years to keep it bright. The tail has been replaced a few times and the ears have had to be reattached. 

The biggest improvement is his feet. There has been much trial and error with these. Egg cartons just glued like in the first picture was the start. Different glues were tried. Later, stones were added to give extra weight and help with balance. The stones are important, be sure to add some to each egg carton section. Finally,one day I just grabbed the good old duct tape and covered it all. Finally, a good solid base that has held up for a couple years. The next improvement will be to look for a color different than the yellow and make it more to my liking. But the key is that he now works, is stable, and has held up for some time. 

Here is Wilbur in action:  

With a stack of skill cards placed in the slot, Wilbur is ready to teach. For these cards, Charlotte counted the items and stated the number.

To view the answer, the child removes the bottle cap and peers inside.

Charlotte removed the cap and looked inside to see the answer revealed. If she is correct, she simply takes the card out and another is already in place. NOTE: Children enjoy removing the cap, so I suggest they put it back on before they change the card.

Here is what she saw when she looked inside. 

The cards should measure about 5 inches by 8 inches. 

Put the "skill" at the top edge of the card. 

The correct answer should be at the bottom center of the card.

Here are a few examples of the many possible skills that can be put on cards. 

Douglas was beginning to read and we made these card for him to recognize his name and the names of those most important to him.

Beginning letter sounds

Beginning blends and diagraphs

Fill in the missing vowel

Read the number words



States and Capitals - notice this set was written by one of the children. Having them make the cards is just another step for them to be learning the skill.

Questions to review a unit on bees.

Wilbur is enjoyed by ALL ages and I guarantee when you put him out with some cards, EVERYONE will have to remove the cap and take a look.

Hope Wilbur is loved at your house as much as he is at ours. 

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