Saturday, August 18, 2012

AAS Letter Tiles Mini Office UPDATE

Last year I made a Letter Tiles "Mini Office" for All About Spelling, and after using it for most of the year, I'm tweaking it.

Previously I used magnet strips.  I really wanted to use a full-page magnet, but had trouble finding them, and when I did they were not powerful enough to hold the magnets.  I have seen magnet folder-books for storing die-cuts online, but I haven't been able to see one in person to determine whether they would be strong enough to hold the magnets, or large enough to hold the system.

This year I found that Walmart has some hanging tins on sale for 97 cents (in the craft/office supplies area).  They are about 9" X 11" or so.  They work great!

The tiles stick to these better than to the magnet strips, and I never have any fall off.  For now, I simply glued five small magnet strips onto the folders to hold on the tin signs.  I may decide to glue the whole page down though, I haven't decided yet.

Here's the whole system:

This is actually about half a foot shorter than my previous system, another bonus. You may notice that there are more tiles than ever now.  My oldest is in Level 7!  That level includes extra prefixes and suffixes...

...another Advanced Phonogram...

 plus a whole page full of Greek and Latin Root tiles:

I opted to put these in a separate folder & will pull them out when my oldest uses them, rather than add a 5th panel.  We may even just build on the bottom of this little board since there's room and it's easy to hold.

The signs at Walmart come decorated and with ribbon hangers--here is the front:

I opted to use the back since the patterned backgrounds are too busy to use with the tiles.

The back does have some small print on it, but most of the time this is covered up by tiles and not overly distracting.

I still think that the large, recommended magnet-board is the easiest to use, but if you have limited space or take school on the go, this is a good second option.  You can use this with either All About Spelling or All About Reading (or both).  My kids are older now and don't use the tiles as much, so we like to be able to fold up the tiles and put them away.  I can keep it right in my AAS box.  We generally either lay it on our laps or lay it out on the coffee table in front of us.  A lap version really needs sturdier pages than the folders...which is the thing that makes me want to glue down the tins rather than just attaching them to the folder with magnets.

Happy Reading & Spelling!


  1. WOW!!! What a cool idea! I've been sort of struggling with what to do this year with teaching 2 AAS and starting AAR with another. I've even considered magnet painting the table (which I still may do). Shew... And getting out the tiles each time is a bit time consuming. I got to where I left them on the board and carefully put it on the shelf so my 3yo wouldn't get it - but THIS would be great for both sets!! Glad I didn't miss it on FB :o) And I hope I can find these at StuffMart.

  2. Help! I've looked in two different Walmarts, as well as Hobby Lobby, office supply stores, etc. for those hanging tins - no luck! Would you posting the manufacturer's name so hopefully I can find at least something similar online? THANKS!!

  3. I'm sorry, I have no idea who the manufacturer was. It must have just been a temporary thing that they carried. I wonder if they'll have them again when school supplies go on sale again next July/August?

    Something I've seen online that I've been very curious to try is a magnetic folder. They are used to store die-cuts, but I've never been able to see one in person. Here's an example though--maybe you'll have better luck finding something like this? If you happen to see one or try one out, please let me know what you think.

  4. I ended up buying this:

    I'll let you know how it works!

  5. Cool, can't wait to hear! Merry :-)

  6. What type of folder did you use? I can't find what I thought they were (the plastic type that have velcro closer when floded up. I did find a magnetic board at both Walmart & staples that works when you take off the frame(@ walmart $3, @ Staples $5 for a 8.5"x11") - Quartet Magnetic Dry-Erase Board). I carefully took the staples out and took the frame off so the frames could be used to put pictures my kids color in them as gifts to family and friends.

  7. These were cardstock "expanding wallets" from Staples--kind of like these, only with velcro closures instead of the band:

    I cut the sides open to lay the "folder" flat, and I think I used 3 different ones glued together to get the length I needed. I think you could use any cardstock folder with some velcro dots or velcro strips to make your own closure.

  8. I love the mini office idea! I'm another one who just doesn't have the wall space to put up a large magnetic whiteboard. So, I want to echo the suggestion made above.

    I tried the magnetic strips, with qualified success - only a couple of tiles fell off every time I opened/closed the folder!

    Then I found some 8.5" x 11" magnetic dry erase boards (<$4 at Target during back-to-school sales) which come with a marker (bonus!) and a cheap plastic frame. With the help of a screwdriver I pulled off the frame, then carefully tore all the cardboard off the back of the metal whiteboard plate, which is pretty thin and flexible. Taped that into my mini-office, being careful to cover sharp edges and corners, repeated three more times, and now it's wonderful! The tiles hold on perfectly. Hooray! And thanks for the mini-office idea in the first place!

  9. Awesome, thanks for telling us about your solution!

  10. Here's another way someone made the tiles portable--with a scrapbook binder and magnet pages:

  11. I bought a plastic craft box with a clasp and magnetic sheets to hold the letter tiles. The magnetic sheets are NOT strong enough to keep the tiles in place. I'll have to check into these signs!

  12. Haha, Merry....just saw your link to my photo...I really wish that box had worked!

    1. Aw, that's too bad to hear that they didn't work! I had the same trouble when I tried magnetic sheets locally (the kind you can put through the printer to make a magnet), but I was hoping the ones you had were stronger.

  13. We just started this program and we are using metal cookie sheets from the $ store for the tiles.