The Giant Felt Board

posted Oct 6, 2015, 12:05 AM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Oct 6, 2015, 12:10 AM ]
This has been a bit of an ongoing project at our place.  And it started out rather randomly with me picking up a large old picture frame from our local inorganic rubbish collection about 3 years ago...

You know, one of those moments when you are walking home, spy something that 'might be useful one day' and then have to figure out how to get the cumbersome item home atop a buggy already loaded down with books, groceries, and oh yeah, a toddler!  But get it home we did, where it sat in our garage while I wondered what to do with it and went through several project ideas in my head...

See I'm one of those people who loves looking at options, but hates actually making the decision.  I think because once that decision is made you actually have to let go of the other options.  But eventually I settled on "wouldn't it be cool to have a giant fuzzy felt board?"  And it grew from there.

So what did we do (and what would you need to make one yourself?)

Large empty frame (optional - you could just make a board, but frames are fairly plentiful at op shops)
Large piece of felt, big enough to fit in your frame
Foam core board, big enough to fit your frame (if your frame comes with a wooden insert you can skip this part)
Staple gun & staples
Duct tape
Assorted felt pieces
Fabric scissors
Large ruler
Craft knife

Turn the frame over and measure the inside of the frame to cut your foam board to size.  Lay your foam board  (or your wooden insert) onto your large piece of felt.  Wrap the board like you would cover a book - trim the corners in and fold over.  Tape down the felt as neatly as possible and ensure that the felt is wrapped securely around the board.  

Push the felt covered board into the back of the frame.  I then stapled ours in place but whether you can do this depends on the depth of your frame.  Check your staple height first as you don't want sharp staples where little fingers are playing!  If you can't staple it in place, use the duct tape to secure the board to the frame.  We also completely covered the back of ours in strips of black duct tape to tidy up the back and give it an even finish.

Then cut out some felt shapes and commence playing! 

The top photo was basically a free for all with all the scrap bits of felt.  It kind of felt like some kind of modern art project in the end.  We have found that cookie cutters make great templates for little fingers to cut out and tend to come in pleasing shapes.  If you have a stamp pad you can use this to print the outline onto the felt before cutting!  I tend to use the wider non-cutting side of the cutter for this.

I am also working on some continents of the world, that we can use for geography (man those islands are fiddly)!  This is also why our background is blue, so that it can easily be water or sky...

And today we made ice creams, with cherries and chocolate sauce (YUM)!  I found a template here:

This has been fun and we made two sets.  I'm planning on sewing some beads onto some scoops as sprinkles.  And as all projects always go it gets more elaborate all the time...

There are heaps of cool templates out there on the big wide inter-web, from the instructional (organs and bones of the body, continents, countries, life cycles etc) to the fun and frivolous (ice creams, princesses, fairies, build your own robots, cars, houses etc).  But never forget that there is learning in the frivolous too!

The thing I particularly like about this project is that it has been ongoing, and will continue to be so for many years to come I hope.  As the girls grow older they can make their own felt worlds by cutting and sewing themselves.  It is being used to teach geography, maths, and science in an interactive way.  And it's pretty easy to set up and pack down, it's not particularly messy, noisy, or intrusive.  It's large enough for 2-3 kids to use at once.  

And this board will eventually be mounted on the wall in their room to do double duty as a play area and art work.  

I am also seriously considering re-mounting the felt onto a piece of metal so that it become a MAGNETIC FELT BOARD!!  Oh the possibilities!

Yep, even when I lock down an idea, it continues to grow and expand...