A Cheaper, Greener Alternative to Do-A-Dot Markers

I don't know if you keep up with what's new in the crafty world, but Do-a-Dot Markers are a thing, especially amongst the under ten set.  They come in an array of colors:
And there are even Do-a-Dot activities that your kid can complete with the markers:
I own a whopping six Do-a-Dot markers.  My oldest son and his friends use them, but only under my supervision--not because I don't trust them, but because they're pricey.  A set of six will run you about 15 bucks...plus tax.  Their slogan should be, "These aren't Crayola prices!"

The other day I was doing one of the things I do best...wasting time looking at projects I hope to one day get to on Pinterest.  I ran across a cool and cheap alternative to Do-a-dot markers.  It involved using wine bottle corks and regular paint to create art.

On Wednesdays I hang out with a lovely three year-old named Sofia.  I decided she'd be the perfect person to try out this new technique with.  After I arrived at her house, we talked a bit about what's new with her, then we doodled:
She drew a picture of her aunt
and I wrote down the new words we learned from her picture
Then we sang a couple of songs, and I read her a story:
In the book, a baby bird hatches while his mother is away looking for food for him.  He falls out of his nest and decides to go look for her.  He meets a variety of animals and mistakes each one of them for his mom--there's a dog, a kitten, a cow, a hen, and more.  It's a great story to enhance vocabulary for beginners.  After the story was finished, I flipped back to the page with the tree that the baby bird had fallen from:

I told Sofia we'd be making our own tree.  First we folded our papers in half and drew our tree trunks on the bottom half:
Sofia's tree trunk was purple. :0)
We were supposed to add branches next...
But Sofia thought it was a better idea to draw another pic of her aunt.
Next I pulled out the materials we needed: paints and wine bottle corks
We mixed the paint to make light green to use in addition to dark green
Then we worked on our apple trees:

and we counted the apples once we were finished making our trees

While we read the book and worked I'd stop periodically to write down and illustrate new words.  Once we'd cleaned up I gave the vocabulary chart and the book to her mom to read and practice with her throughout the week.

All in all, I'd recommend the cork painting as an alternative to do-a-dot--sure it's a bit more messy, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper, and more creative as well.

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