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I am super excited about the kids gift idea I’m going to share with you today. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I really think it’s going to be a favorite of my boys this Christmas. To top that off, it’s 100% personalized for my son because I made it myself based on what he loves, it was SUPER easy to make and all of the supplies were under $30. I really think that this present will be played with by our kids for years to come.
You know those felt boards teachers use in their classrooms to tell stories? I vividly remember sitting in my classroom as a 1st grader, watching the felt magically stick up on the felt board all by itself, wanting so badly to have a felt board of my own. I thought this was just one of those “you were born to be a teacher” things, but I’ve been watching the kids in my son’s preschool class, and I really think it’s universal. Kids love felt boards.
So this year, I made my son a felt board for one of his Christmas gifts. He will basically be living out a childhood dream of mine; I’m pretty excited about it.
My son LOVES the TV show Wild Kratts, so I decided to make him a Wild Kratts themed felt board. You can make anything that your kids are interested in! Think about their favorite books, TV shows, movies, or things to play with. Literally anything that you can think of can be turned into a felt board. Even pictures of your family and friends and favorite places to go! How fun would that be?
The materials are really straightforward and affordable. You just need 1 foam poster board, some felt to cover the board and make background scenes (if you want), iron transfer paper (link below to what I used), white felt, and a computer and printer. This project could not be easier! It only involves a little internet research, printing, ironing and cutting. You can definitely do it.
First I made all of the little felt pieces to go on the board. I'm doing Wild Kratts characters and creatures but you should pick anything that your child is interested in right now. Find pictures online that you'd like to be your little felt pieces, save them, and copy and paste the pictures into a document. I tried to squeeze as many characters and creatures onto each page as I could to try to conserve the iron-on paper. I didn't worry too much about sizing and scale; I just sized each picture to make sure that it was a manageable size for my kids. It doesn't matter if your pictures have a background because you will just cut the background off. When you've pasted all of your characters into a document and sized them, print them onto your iron-on transfer paper. (I highly recommend printing a sample on plain paper first!)
Once you print your pictures onto your transfer paper, follow the directions included and iron your pictures onto white felt. Turn on your favorite TV show and cut out all of your little felt pieces. You may even be able to recruit help during this stage.
Okay... Now that you have all of your little felt characters, you just need the felt board to stick them on. I got a foam poster board and bought enough blue felt to cover the front and fold over the back. You can use any color – I bought blue to represent the sky or ocean.
I used my glue gun to attach the felt to the board, essentially just wrapping the fabric around the board like a present, gluing as I went.
I wanted my son to be able to change the background a little bit, so I also cut out of felt: a strip of tan fabric that he can use as desert sand, a strip of green fabric he can use as grass, and a brown "mountain. This took me literally 3 minutes, but you can totally skip this step.
That's it! You now have an adorable felt board with personalized characters for your child! I love that the possibilities are endless with this project. I envision making other sets of felt characters for my kids as their interests change.
In addition to being a ton of fun, felt boards are great learning tools because they allow children to use their imagination, practice language, develop storytelling skills and more.
They say "the simpler the toy, the more complex the play." I think this is a really simple toy that's going to invite some very complex play into our home. And lots of joy too.
Are you planning on making a felt board for your family? Let me know if you try it out!