Hit the Target

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With a little set-up in advance, this is an easy game to help fill a dreary winter day indoors!

While Veronika was napping, I used a hot glue gun to affix Velcro squares (the scratchy side) to several soft golf balls.

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Next, I cut a few simple shapes from felt, like circles, hearts, and triangles. If you’re feeling more ambitious, cut teddy bears or other animal shapes, too! I then used hot glue to attach these to a recycled piece of cardboard.

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When she woke up, I showed her how to toss the balls towards the felt, at which point they stick! She was fascinated.

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It was hard for her to get the concept of putting the balls on herself, preferring to hold the golf balls instead of releasing her grip.

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But she did like pulling them off the Velcro, no doubt intrigued by the tug of resistance.

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I’m going to keep this game around since it’s one that will grow with her. The felt shapes provide a little early learning, and she’ll be able to approach the game differently as her tossing skills improve.

Catnip Toys

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It’s our cat’s birthday today, 11 years old! Travis loved the idea of celebrating our little guy, so we put together these easy catnip toys for him.

Ranger Rick had a template to follow for Halloween-themed cat toys, since National Cat Day (October 29) falls just before the spooky holiday. I printed out the pumpkin and ghost templates and  traced them onto appropriately colored felt, along with shapes for facial features and a green pumpkin stem.

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Whoops, because I didn’t have much white felt, some of our ghost features were reversed white-on-black.

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Use fabric glue or hot glue to attach both sides of each shape nearly all the way around, leaving an opening. Travis helped stuff these openings with cotton balls.

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And then of course we added catnip, a small spoonful to each. Travis thought the smell of it was wild, and loved the idea that it would drive the cat crazy.

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Seal up the remaining seam with more glue. I glued on the features, and then it was time to treat the cat!

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Travis loved tossing down the birthday present.

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And our cat was quite appreciative! How will you celebrate National Cat Day? Please share in the comments!

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Felt Tangrams

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Consider me a tangrams convert; these puzzles have turned out to be a fantastic way for Travis to entertain himself in those moments when I need him occupied. If you don’t want to purchase a set from the store, make a quick version from felt!

I cut out the various shapes that make up a tangram set using a different color for each shape. I free-handed the following: large triangles, small triangles, squares, trapezoids, and hexagons.

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Now simply print out pictures of tangrams and set your child to work. If the picture printed out big enough, Travis could work right on the paper.

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More of a challenge were small diagrams that he then had to design on a surface next to the paper.

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Look mom, a helicopter!

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This easy project is sure to keep hands and minds busy!


Adventure Pouch

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Travis has a few new animal figure toys that need to come along on all his adventures (of course). We needed a safe way to transport them and this adventure pouch craft from Highlights magazine fit the bill perfectly!

First, trace a pouch shape onto felt. I had Travis take the first try at it and just enlarged his version slightly since his original oval was a touch too small.

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Cut out, and trace the same shape onto a second sheet of felt so your pouch as two sides. Cut out.

Use hot glue to attach the two felt pieces together, leaving the top open.

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To decorate, Highlights suggested cutting additional shapes from other colors of felt and gluing them on. Since felt is tough for Travis to get through with scissors, we used neat ocean felt stickers, instead.

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Punch holes at the top of the pouch, and lace yarn or twine through the holes. Knot to secure, and pull up on the strings to seal it shut.

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Travis loved putting his animal friends in and out of the pouch, their new home! This pouch would also work great for collecting treasures on a nature walk.

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What will your child do with the adventure pouch? Please share in the comments!

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Felt Board Story Time

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Felt boards are a fantastic visual… and slightly magical to kids, too, since the pieces stick together but then peel right off. Today, I wanted to tell Veronika some familiar stories and rhymes using a felt board as a visual.

If you want, this could be a DIY craft: cover a board with felt and staple the edges in place. Then you’ll need to cut additional shapes from other colors of felt to act out the stories. I confess, though, that I used a pre-made felt story board. This made it a lot easier to focus on the storytelling for Veronika, and not on my negligible crafting skills!

She was intrigued the moment I pulled out the board, no doubt from the bright colors of the felt.

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And the texture!

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After letting her have some time for exploration, I set up a story. Goldilocks and the Three Bears was fun, with a little house shape, and a semi-circle for a bowl of porridge.

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Then I set up a little “boat” and sang “Row Row Row Your Boat.”

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This one was Jack and Jill going up the hill!

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And tumbling down.

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Obviously there is a bit of stretching the imagination that needs to happen here, but it was great fun to mix and match the shapes and watch her reaction.

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This is definitely a game I hope to continue as she gets older, especially since we can use smaller pieces and more intricate shapes once she doesn’t put everything in her mouth.

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Baby Felt Play

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I can’t believe Veronika is nearly five months old, and getting to a point where games with her aren’t just about developing her senses, but also interactive! This craft is a perfect example; it was fun to put together while she played on her playmat, and entertained her nearly all morning while big brother was at school.

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To start, cut a long piece of felt from any one color. I only had short felt squares, so ended up tying together three strips of my base color.

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Using additional bright felt colors, cut out shapes. I kept these fairly simple, including circles, squares, triangles, stars, and diamonds.

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From here, there were so many ways to play! First, I simply let her explore with hands… and mouth.

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It was a fantastic toy while she was sitting in her high chair, keeping her hands busy as I prepped meals.

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Next, I lay her on a blanket and we concentrated on some early learning. Point out what your baby is looking at (“Look, a blue circle” or, “You’re touching the red star”).

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We also counted through the shapes a few times, all the way up to eight.

Then I challenged her gross motor skills, putting the felt a little out of her reach at tummy time.

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Her little legs started scrunching in an imitation crawl almost immediately. I gave her a bit of a boost and she was so proud when she made it to the felt.

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Finally, the toy is great for dangling. Veronika loved discovering she could pull off the shapes, one by one.

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Once the shapes are all off, simply thread back on to the long felt and begin again!

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Play with Finger Puppets

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Today, I got crafty for Veronika! Travis and I wanted to make her a set of animal finger puppets, which I copied from a template. Technically, the felt pieces are meant to be sewn together. But I will be honest: I cannot sew to save my life. What I can do is hot glue, and that worked in a pinch!

First, draw a template for the bodies of the animals on white paper. Pin the paper to a piece of felt, and cut out. You’ll need two for each animal, front and back. I used white felt for a zebra, green for a crocodile, yellow for a lion, and light blue for a hippo.

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Hot glue (or sew) the two pieces together.

Next I added tiny bits of felt for each animal’s features. The zebra got black triangles for stripes, a black nose, and pink ears.

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The hippo had a piece going horizontally across for his nose in the same light blue, as well as pink ears and eyes. The lion got a brown mane, and a yellow circle glued over that for the face. The crocodile got big white eyes and itsy-bitsy white triangles for teeth.

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Add any final features with a pen or sharpie.

These came out so cute! You can hold them up for your little one to see. Veronika might have been slightly alarmed at first.

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I named each animal for her, and made their sounds, and had them act out silly hand plays.

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Big sibs will definitely want to take a turn with the puppets on!

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Finally, we used the animals at story time. If you have books featuring any of the animals you’ve made, trot out the puppet to help bring the story alive. Or choose which animal to make based on what books you have at home!

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We’ll be playing with these for a long time to come, I can already tell.

Pouch Present

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We’ve loved the edible gift suggestions from High Five magazine in the past – perfect for teachers this time of year! The craft in Travis’s latest December issue was a bit different – the wrapping for the gift, instead of the gift itself. Put the pouch together now, and fill it with a little token of appreciation for teachers this holiday season.

There is a bit of adult prep-work for this one. Cut a circle from a 9×12-inch piece of felt. Green felt seasonably appropriate.

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Punch about 12 holes around the edges of the felt. This is definitly a grown-up step, since felt is much tougher to hole punch than paper.

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Finally, cut a piece of yarn that is 36 inches long, and tie to a paper clip; this will be your child’s “needle.”

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Now it’s the kid’s turn! Encourage him or her to decorate the bottom of the felt with markers. Travis made scribbles, but your kids might prefer to draw something seasonable, like Christmas trees or ornaments.

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Travis was so proud lacing all the way around the felt pieces with his needle and thread. He insisted he could do it all by himself, including knowing when to sew up and when to sew down.

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Once you’ve gone all the way around, leave the two ends of yarn dangling. Pull the felt slightly, and it will cinch closed.

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What will you gift your child’s teachers this year? Do share in the comments!

Acorn Owls

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It’s autumn, and for us that means the best time of year for nature walks. Some of the supplies we bring home are perfect to play with together, crafting into games or animals. But this one was more of a grown-up project that I put together for Travis, involving very fine fingerwork. He loved playing with the resulting toy! Bigger kids can, of course, help make the “owls” as well.

The longer and taller an acorn you can find for this project the better, and you’ll also want acorns without the caps. My acorns actually weren’t ideal, but I worked with what I had after a pretty stroll.

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Cut out tiny owl features from various colors of felt. We had pink wings and yellow beaks. If I had been patient enough, I would have cut small felt eyes, but instead used a sharpie for this final step.

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Glue on the details, and let dry completely. You can also cut out a felt tree or branch for the owls to hang out on. Travis delighted in these little creatures.

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Perhaps next time we’ll turn our acorns into different animals – what would you suggest? Please share in the comments!

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Dinosaur Hat

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We’ve had so much fun with dinosaur projects lately that it was time to turn Travis into a dinosaur himself! Look for blank hats at the craft store, in whatever color your child prefers as the background. All you need is sheets of felt to complete the look. I recommend sticky-back felt for the easiest time putting this hat together, otherwise you’ll need to use hot glue or tacky glue.

First our dinosaur needed eyes. I cut two circles, as well as two smaller ones to be the irises.

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Next up was circles to make dots on the dinosaur’s head, two teardrop shapes for the nostrils, and fangs glued on to the brim.

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For the spikes, you’ll need to cut two pieces of felt for each size spike desired. Attach the pieces back to back, and then adhere the bottoms along the crown of the cap.

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Roar! What a ferocious dinosaur.

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