In trolling Pinterest and blogs I have come across the Montessori Moveable Alphabet over and over again and see the benefits of them, but they run anywhere between $40-$60. That's too rich for my blood. I then came across the idea of making your own on Pinterest, and that made the idea all that more enticing!
I recently purchased myself a laminating machine. It's bizarrely addictive. Who knew melting plastic could be so much fun? hehe - but seriously - I've already 'paid for it' in the amount of laminating I do. I found a Gold Box deal on Amazon and acquired the machine for $20 and 50 laminating sheets for $10 - so for $30 I was set to start laminating various things for Ace to use for school. Considering laminating one sheet at Office Depot is $1.50, it didn't take me long to recoop the costs and start saving money (yes I've owned it less than a week and yes, I've already laminated over 20 sheets worth of stuff.)
I purchased Darice Jewlery Organizer that has 30 compartments at Michael's for $7, created my alphabet sheets (both upper and lower case) on my computer, and then printed three sets of each, laminated, and cut!
The entire project cost me less than $10 if you include, the cost of printing, paper, and laminating. Overall took me about an hour worth of nap time to do it. After I had created the alphabet I created some word cards for Ace to start doing some general matching visually with. I laminated and cut those and then I ran into a problem. No where to store them with the alphabet... so I really got into some plastic melting/cutting and retrofitting. Since there are 30 full size compartments and I only needed 26 I merely cut out one of the dividers, melted away any sharp edges and wala a place to store some words.
So why use a moveable alphabet? Well it prepares them for spelling, reading and writing. You can help them learn the phonetic sounds of letters, here is a good link to describe the sounds. The moveable alphabet gives them the freedom to explore the letters, to learn the difference between vowels and consonants, and to start to see how words form.
Ace loves it and I look forward to helping him learn how to form more words. This will be a useful tool that we will use over and over again and it was pretty easy to create. :)