## Introduction: Early Learning Shapes and Numbers Toy Influenced by Montessori

This is a simple project that can be made using a small amount of woodworking hand tools.

To make this item you will need:

A small sheet of of plywood or solid wood 22cm x 44cm at 9mm - 12mm thick

10mm dowel

Hand drill

Pencil

Measuring ruler or tape

Hand saw

Coping saw

Sandpaper

Wood glue

Scrap wood to use as a sanding block

Scrap wood to use as a sacrificial base when drilling holes

## Step 1: Measure and Cut the Wood

Measure 22cm wide by 44cm long and cut the sheet to provide two pieces at 22cm square.

One piece will be used for the base and the other piece will be used for making the shapes.

## Step 2: Draw the Shapes Ready for Cutting Out

Measure out the shapes and mark the outline using a pencil.

Take your time to be as accurate as you can with the measurements at this stage. This will ensure everything matches and fits later on.

Begin by dividing the 22cm square into 4 sections. These will measure 11cm square each.

To create the circle shape, draw two diagonal lines in the bottom right section. The intersecting lines will provide a center for the compass. Using the compass draw a circle with a diameter of 10cm.

To create the triangle shape, draw two diagonal lines in the upper left section. Measure 5mm in from each edge of the section and draw a square. The square should measure 10cm on each side. On the bottom line of the drawn square, measure 5cm along to find the center and draw a line up through the intersecting center lines. Measure 86mm up along the center line and mark the point. Draw a line from each end of the bottom line to meet the mark made at 86mm up the center line. This will create an equilateral triangle with 10cm long sides.

To create the rectangle shape, draw two vertical lines 35mm in from the sides of the upper right section. Next draw a line 10cm down from the top and a line 10cm up from the bottom. The rectangle should measure 10cm by 4cm

To create the square shape, draw a line 10cm in from the right edge and 10cm in from the top edge of the bottom left section. The square should measure 10cm along each side.

To help when cutting out the shapes, shade all areas of waste to leave a clear view of the shapes.

## Step 3: Cut the Shapes and Prepare for Drilling Holes

Cut the shapes out of the sheet following the lines drawn using a coping or fret saw. It is best to stay slightly outside of the lines when cutting as the shaped can be cleaned up later using sandpaper working to the lines.

The circle should already have the center marked from working out the shape prior to cutting.

For the holes in the square, measure 2cm in from each edge and create a smaller square with 6cm sides.

For the holes in the rectangle, draw a line down the center at 2cm in from the edge. Next mark 2cm along the center line from the top and bottom.

For the holes in the triangle, measure half way 5cm along each edge and draw a line to each point. Measure 64mm along each center line and mark. You can draw a triangle by drawing from each 65mm mark to the next. This will give a clearer indication for drilling.

Using a bradawl, make an indent at the position of the holes to be drilled in each shape.

Before drilling make sure:

The circle only has a central hole.

The rectangle has two holes at the marks made along the center line.

The triangle has three hole at the points of the inner triangle.

The square will have 4 holes at each corner of the inner square.

## Step 4: Drill the Holes in the Shapes

Using the indicated marks in each shape carefully drill a 12mm hole at each mark.

Use a hand drill with a 12mm spade bit. Place a piece of scrap wood underneath the shape and drill part the way through until the tip of the bit is showing on the other side.

Remove the bit and flip the shape over.

Using the small hole from the tip coming through as a guide, drill until the hole is complete.

This method should prevent wood fibers from tearing out as usually can happen if you drill completely through from one side.

Clean up the shapes using sandpaper. This should remove any pencil marks and leave the pieces feeling smoother. Make sure to pay attention to the edges where splinters are often more likely to occur.

## Step 5: Preparing the Base for Drilling and Receiving the Dowel Pegs

Divide the base into four sections of 11cm squares.

Draw two diagonal lines in the upper left section. This is where the circle shape will be placed. It only requires one peg hole.

Draw a line 2cm from the top and 2cm from the bottom of the upper right section. Mark 55mm in from the sides on each line. This is where the rectangle shape will be placed. It requires two peg holes.

Draw a line 55mm in from the edge to form a center line in the bottom right section. Make a mark 35mm down from the top of the center line. Draw a line 25 mm from the bottom of the section. From the center line, mark 3cm in each direction along the bottom line. This is where the triangle shape will be placed. It requires three peg holes.

Draw a line 2cm in from each edge of the bottom left section to for a square with 6cm sides. This is where the square shape will be placed. It requires four peg holes.

Check the measurements again carefully and place the shapes in place to confirm that the peg holes are in the correct position for each shape.

Using a bradawl, make an indent at the position of the holes to be drilled in the base.

## Step 6: Drilling the Base to Receive the Dowel Pegs

Using the indicated marks in base for each peg hole carefully drill a 10mm hole at each mark.

Use a hand drill with a 10mm spade bit. Place a piece of scrap wood underneath the base and drill part the way through until the tip of the bit is showing on the other side.

Remove the bit and flip the base over. Using the small hole from the tip coming through as a guide, drill until the hole is complete.

This method should prevent wood fibers from tearing out as usually can happen if you drill completely through from one side.

Clean up the base using sandpaper. This should remove any pencil marks and leave the piece feeling smoother.

Make sure to pay attention to the edges where splinters are often more likely to occur.

## Step 7: Install the Dowel Pegs

Mark the 10mm dowel for a 25mm length and cut off to create a small peg.

You will need to repeat this step until you have 10 pegs.

Smooth the pegs using sandpaper before gluing.

Using a small amount of wood glue in each hole, fix the pegs in place. They can slightly protrude at the base and this can be sanded down later. It is best to protrude the pegs and sand them, than leaving a recess or indent from not seating far enough through the hole.

## Step 8: Finishing the Toy

Check that the shapes fit well and finish.

I like to number the shapes using a pyrography machine to wood burn them into the wood, but they can be simply drawn on painted on.

I also like to outline each shape on the base as it helps the child in recognizing the place of each shape.

The toy can be left unfinished. I like to use Organic Linseed Oil and Beeswax mix as a safe finish.

Happy learning and playing

Namaste :)