Monday, March 23, 2009

How to Make Easy Felt/Flannel Board Pieces

Flannel Board Pieces for Brown BearI like using a felt board to tell stories, particularly with 3s and up. Actually, mine's a flannel board because I couldn't find large enough felt. The ones at school are made of some material I don't recognize. But it's all the same thing.

Unfortunately, I have trouble finding good pieces for the board. Sure, I can cut out geometric shapes to let the kids explore, but we don't have a library of felt board pieces for storytelling where I work. So I have to purchase or make anything I want to use. When I priced some sets I was a little shocked. A few years ago I made some pieces out of laminated paper backed with hook and loop tape. It worked, but I didn't think hard enough about storage and some of the pieces got lost before their second outing. I'm not very artistic or crafty, so making more pieces seemed too daunting and I dropped it. Plus, I'm a little scared of the school's laminator!

Recently, I decided to try again. In the book 2'S Experience: Felt Board Fun (2's Experience Series) I found a reference to something called Pellon. It turns out that this is a brand name for interfacing, which is used in sewing and crafting. It also turns out that you can buy versions of interfacing that are thin enough to use for tracing line art AND it sticks to felt. It's not terribly sturdy stuff, but I wanted to make pieces for me, not for the kids.

Using the art in the felt board book, I started work on pieces for Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? After copying the art (a really important step since my ink went straight through the interfacing onto my copy) I traced it with permanent markers. Using fabric markers I colored in the pieces, stuck them in the drier to set the fabric marker color, and cut them out. Almost instant pieces!

Are they professional quality works of art? No, not really. But they work. And they're cheap. They didn't take all that long to make, which is key for me. Next on my list of things to try is to make some slightly sturdier pieces (something I think will involve fusible interfacing) and a felt board with storage. I've seen references to being able to print from a printer directly on interfacing, but I was unable to find out specifically what kind of interfacing other than the expensive stuff in small packages sold for that purpose. If I have any luck I'll let you know!
Brown Bear and Gold Fish Say Hello
Do you want some printable instructions for making these felt board pieces? I thought you would. I've put the instructions, complete with photos for each step, here at Instructables. I highly recommend the Instructables site for all kinds of ideas. It's the first time I've written an Instructable, so let me know what you think.


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