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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Make a Changing Caterpillar

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After a recent documentary on Bugs, Travis is in love with caterpillars. It was perfect timing for a story unit on caterpillars turning into butterflies in our latest Ranger Rick Jr. We downloaded the template and put together this neat felt project that illustrates metamorphosis beautifully.

A note on the project: unless your kids are at the upper age range of Ranger Rick Jr., grown-ups will likely need to assemble the caterpillar and butterfly. But then the kids can play with it!

First, use the template to cut the large butterfly shape from black felt. Cut the small butterfly shape from orange felt, and glue onto the black. (You’ll need fabric glue or a hot glue gun). Set aside.

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To make the caterpillar, cut a rectangle from black felt. Cut a long strip from felt for the antenna (Travis wanted blue instead of black). Fold the strip into a V and glue onto the top of the black body. Add two stripes each of yellow, white, and black felt. Glue on googly eyes (Travis wanted 3 eyes, not 2, hence the odd appearance!) and then 2 eyes onto the back.

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For the final component, cut the large butterfly shape from green felt. Glue onto the back of the black butterfly; this will be your chrysalis.

To put it all together, attach 2 Velcro dots to the body of the caterpillar on the black stripes, and line up with Velcro dots on the butterfly’s body.

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Place additional Velcro dots on the left top and bottom of the black butterfly wing, and then on the opposite sides of the green “chrysalis” so you can fold it closed.

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Now it was time for Mr. Caterpillar to crawl into his butterfly wings and fold himself up into a cozy chrysalis.

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Travis loved it! Note: You can also attach a string to the green felt so the chrysalis can hang.

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Open back up again for the butterfly transformation.

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Felt Play Mat

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Felt play mats are a great way to occupy the kids while you’re getting work done around the house or cooking dinner. Set out a large sheet of felt for each child, along with customizable mix-and-match pieces, and let the entertainment begin!

My original plan for this game was to set Travis up with a Medieval castle scene, but he wasn’t that interested. Instead, we recreated objects from his current favorite show, Fireman Sam.

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I let Travis decide which pieces he wanted, and cut them from corresponding felt colors – red firetrucks, yellow houses, green trees (“and we need brown trunks!” Travis made sure to add), blue water etc.

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Kids who are 5 and up should be able to cut out their own felt pieces, but Travis was excited just watching me to so!

Forgive my lack of artistic skills, but here was our mountain rescue center with a radio and “flares.”

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Once we had enough pieces, the play began! We had a little orange “fire” that could be moved around the scene, and his firetruck rushed in to the rescue.

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We decided we did need a few people, so added Playmobil figures.

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As he played, I added further shapes like a castle, a pond with fish, and a few more nature elements.

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Now he could mix and match games and create imaginative tales to his heart’s content!

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Fabulous Felt Fruit

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This adorable project from High Five magazine is the perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table this coming Thursday! Kids will be so proud to tell relatives that they put it together (nearly) all by themselves.

To start, you’ll need sheets of adhesive-backed felt in red, green, brown, and orange. This item isn’t even something I knew existed, but it’s sold right by single sheets of felt at the craft store. I could not find orange with the adhesive backing, so read on for how I solved that dilemma.

To start, trace the shape of an apple and pumpkin onto paper and cut out. Those closer to age 5 can trace their own fruits, but I made the shapes for Travis and he worked with safety scissors to help cut.

We then traced the templates onto our felt sheets (great tracing practice!). You’ll need two of each shape for one finished piece of fruit.

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I cut the felt shapes out, since the material was tough for Travis’s hands. He wanted to try though!

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Finally, we cut out rectangles from the green felt to be apple stems and one bigger rectangle from the brown felt to be our pumpkin stem. Remove the adhesive backing from the stems and fold in half; set aside.

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To assemble a fruit, remove the backing from one apple shape. Place two cotton balls on top, and one green stem at the center.

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Remove the backing from a second apple shape and place the sticky sides together. Travis insisted on doing this step himself (which I loved!) which meant our edges didn’t always line up perfectly, but the sticky felt is very forgiving.

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He loved that we made a few green apples, since those are his dad’s favorite, and then he told me the red ones were for his grandparents.

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For the pumpkin, we followed the same method, but I used my hot glue gun to seal the two sheets of non-sticky orange felt together and to attach the brown stem at the top.

Finally, we nestled our adorable felt fruit into a straw basket, the perfect touch for our Thanksgiving table.

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