My son has these in his preschool class. I thought they were really neat and wanted to have one at home. Have you seen the prices of these? I know they are worth it, but if I can make one inexpensively...why not?
All you need are colored rubber bands, black paint (helps the rubber bands show up better), ruler, rounded tip nails, hammer, and a wood plaque. You can use any piece of wood, but the store bought plaques are already have smooth routed edges.
I bought the rubber bands, plaque, and nails at Walmart and spent only $5.50. Your prices may vary, but it should be close. Here are the exact nails I bought. I had a hard time finding adequate ones at the home improvement store.
I had Cole paint the plaque black with a small roller. This provides a nice even coat with quick drying time.
While he was painting I marked the nails with a red marker. This way I could keep the height of the nails even. I just lined a bunch up and made one mark across then at once. It was very easy.
Once the paint dried I made a grid on the board of 1 inch squares. [When I make another one I will make 1.5 inch squares, to give a little more space.]
Then I hammered the nails until the red line was in the wood. This is what it looked like all done.
It looks a like a medieval torture device, but it isn't sharp at all. It could still hurt someone if not properly supervised, though. This is definitely for preschoolers and not toddlers (although Charley insists on playing with it). I would suggest supervising, at least the first few times it is played with.
My son had a great time with it. He was so excited and recognized this from his classroom. What a great way to practice fine motor skills and experiment with shapes.
We plan on making a few more for friends. They were such a hit. They are a perfect way to add some indoor fun to winter days.
I linked this post up over at Joyful Learner for Math Links Monday.