When my older son was small, he used to play "checkers" with my father-in-law. They would stack the checkers into towers and then organize the red checkers on the red squares and the black checkers on the black squares. My father-in-law passed away six years ago, and the memories of these checker games with his grandfather are special to my son. We now have the box of checkers lying around the house -- the sides are held together with masking tape and inside there is the familiar battered checker board and a Ziploc bag full of mismatched black and red checkers.
My toddler pulled this box off the shelf the other day, and we enjoyed matching red checkers to red squares, black checkers to black squares and building red & black towers. But I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be fun if we had a few more colors to play with?" And so the idea of a "technicolor" checkerboard was born. Of course, the boards I devised are not suitable for playing an actual game of checkers, but the buttons I've substituted for playing pieces are delightful in their variety, and perfect for this color-matching game.
"Astrobrights" printer paper, colorful craft paper, origami paper, etc...
White printer paper
A paper cutter and scissors
Clear adhesive laminate sheets (I found packets at an office supply shop)
Decorative paper punches (optional)
To create the game, I gathered assorted pieces of colorful paper from my cupboards: "Astrobrights" printer paper, origami paper and a bit of scrapbook paper -- whatever happened to be on hand. Then I used a small paper cutter to create 4 cm squares. If you don't have a paper cutter, using a pair of scissors for cutting squares will work just fine (and also, you could make your squares smaller or larger according to your preference.)
After I had cut as many squares as I thought I might need (at least 30 per board), I arranged them on a pieces of white paper in a pleasing pattern. When I was satisfied with the arrangements, I used a glue stick to affix the squares permanently to the pieces of white paper.
Note: If you use white glue instead of glue stick to affix your squares, the paper will buckle and your child will not have a smooth surface on which to lay his buttons. Hence, I strongly recommend glue stick for this project!
To create a sturdy backing, I cut pieces of cardboard to match the size of my checker boards (mine are approx. 19cm x 23cm) and then used a glue stick to affix the paper checker boards to the cardboard pieces. After that, I used clear plastic adhesive laminate to cover the boards.
Note: I tried using ModPodge to seal the checker boards, but it caused the paper to ripple and, sadly, my first board had to be pitched in the rubbish. If you cannot get your hands on clear adhesive laminate sheets from an office supply shop, you might try strips of clear packing tape (the type of wide adhesive tape one would use on parcels.)
And you're done... it's time to add buttons! I found some really nice ones at this shop by searching "bulk buttons" on etsy.
My little one had so much fun with the new "checkerboards" that I was inspired to try a few variations. For some reason, the game of "Butterflies Buttons" was not popular with my toddler, however he loved arranging the buttons in circles around the rainbow "bulls eye." I made the "Butterflies & Buttons" game with a craft paper punch, and to create the bulls eye, I used a pencil to trace around various dishes and cups from the kitchen, then cut the circles out with a scissor.
Are you a fan of checkers, too? How about a game of Rainbow Checkers!