reggio inspired natural alphabet

You know how the universe sometimes nudges you to do something, change something.

For the last few years I have been taking things out of my classroom. Making it more simple, fewer colors, less clutter.  I want the kids and their work to be the focal point, and the classroom "decor" to be the background.  A background that supports independence, curiosity, imagination and learning.

This summer, I knew it was time for my classroom alphabet line to change to something more organic, more simple, more natural.

First step was to take down the old alphabet.  If the alphabet was down, I had to make/acquire a new one.

Second step was to look for inspiration.  Yup.  That meant Pinterest.  There is a lot of inspiration out there.

As I tell my students, when you are inspired by something, an idea goes inside your brain and rolls around in there mixing with other ideas, and makes something new.

I knew that I had some cedar shingles left over from roofing our shed last summer.

I knew that a friend would cut me some letters with her trusty cricut.

This all rolled around in my  brain, and with input from friends, an idea grew.

One letter per cedar shake; lower case letter on the bottom, simple silhouette picture on the top. Cover with stain. Letter and picture in relief.

My cedar shakes were a bit too long for the space I have - a chance to use power tools!

Images for the top. Some of the images were easy.  A is for apple.  Every one knows what an apple shape is. Some were a bit tougher.  The image had to be easily recognizable in silhouette form, and had to work with stain on cedar.  The cat ended up being a learning experience. Too finicky and was not easily recognizable. I turned the shake over and made a car on the other side! 

Staining from the top down seemed logical.

Just a little bit of stain (I used Saman - a water-based stain.  Lots of colours to choose from, easy to work with and easy to clean up.)

The remaining space was carefully filled in.

Steady hands. Not too much stain on the brush. No social media multi-tasking.

A bit of hemp rope and some No More Nails made quick and easy hangers.

All done.

I am so delighted I could do the happy dance.

ps.  @MmeKathleen of Mrs. Silky Cactus fame let me know that she made an alphabet set for her French Immersion kindergarten classroom.  C'est magnifique!



  1. LOVE!!! Time to inspire myself and get my old alphabet down...hmmm....pinterest here I come!

    1. Thanks Shauna. Happy pinterest hunting and creating.

  2. Wow!! That's VERY impressive, Sandi. I like it a LOT!

    1. Any excuse to play with power tools, Barb ...

  3. These are absolutely spectacular! I love color so it as been hard for me to shift to the natural stuff. This might just be the inspiration I need.

  4. these are beautiful!! Glad you had so much fun making them too.


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