Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.
Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they chose. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I swore to my sister that I would never have a house full of primary-colored plastic toys. I joked that my child would have the same kind of toys the girls on Little House on the Prairie played with: a square of cambric and a corncob.
I didn’t keep my vow. Eventually, the plastic made its way in. But I have always been partial to old-fashioned toys. Wooden blocks, wooden cars and trains, teddy bears and dolls … I like toys where my child’s imagination is required to make the play happen.
One of the simplest homemade toys you can make is a felt board. Pre-readers can use it to tell stories, and they can draw and create their own characters and their own favorite things, whether it’s a jet plane or a kitten. It’s a toy that’s wonderful for shared play, too — two children working together to make a world.
Once you gather the few things you need, you can make a felt board in just a few minutes.
Here we have:
• a thrift store frame ($3.00)
• a piece of thick cardboard cut to fit
• a yard of felt ($4.00)
• some 8 x 11 sheets of felt ($0.25 each)
Simply wrap the felt around the cardboard, push the cardboard into the frame, and trim away the excess fabric. Voila! You’re done. Whew. Take a minute to wipe your brow.
Now you can get your sharp scissors and make some shapes for your board.
Simple shapes can be combined to make anything, like two-dimensional building blocks. With the right shapes, you can make a dollhouse, a castle, an airport, a garage. Your child can decorate them with a Sharpie — only permanent markers work well on felt, so supervise carefully.
You can cut out letters and numbers to spell out family names and favorite words.
You can make felt dolls and your child can make a whole wardrobe of clothes. Any rainy afternoon you can add to your cast of characters and their wardrobes.
If your children are very young, they can draw whatever they like and you can cut it out for them. When my first son was small, he drew all of the Thomas the Tank Engine trains as well as a lot of track and tunnels. There’s even a felt Sir Topham Hatt floating around here somewhere.
Felt boards can be any size. Instead of using an empty frame, you can staple your felt to a large cork board. In my preschool, we had a felt board that was three feet high and several feet long; a whole group of children could use it together.
You can make a portable felt board for the car by using a pillowcase as a template and sewing a simple envelope out of felt. (Don’t worry about seams — just trim the open end with pinking shears.) Slide in either a piece of thick cardboard or a pillow if the trip’s a long one. Play and nap: the perfect combination.
Even big kids enjoy working with felt. In fact, my son Jack and I put together a little surprise just to show you how much fun felt can be. Enjoy!
We are so happy to welcome Lori Pickert as a guest to our Being series this month. Lori is an educator, writer, and mother of two, as well as the author of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners. Lori’s popular blog has become a go-to resource for many, many families interested in finding ways to encourage their children to become passionate and creative thinkers.
GIVEAWAY: Want the chance to win a brand new Apple iPad? The Rhythm of the Home blog is one of the five hand-picked blogs hosting the details of The Golden Ticket Giveaway from the new Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory enhanced ebook for kids. The details of this Rafflecopter giveaway can be found here and we encourage everyone to enter to win before September 23rd!
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