Felt or Velcro boards give you the opportunity to add a quiet activity to the end of a shelf or a small chunk of wall. They are really easy to install and there are a variety of activities you can rotate through. You can make your own activities or buy pre-made ones, so your options are endless.
You create your own velcro wall in several ways. I purchased one Velcro bulletin board to try the idea out. It was successful so we purchased more. You can buy one small square. They are 12 inches by 12 inches. You can put a few together to make a larger surface or you can purchase a larger board. You can also make a board yourself by covering a board or a piece of foam board or an old canvas with felt, pulling it tight and stapling it. We tried out the foam board option in a library I worked in long ago and it actually held up decently well considering how many little hands played with it daily. If I were to do it today, I would wrap an old canvas.
One easy activity for a felt board is to buy a set of interesting flash cards. I just put a Velcro dot on the back side of the card. (be sure to use the rough dots so they stick to the board) We have collected a variety of cards over the years. While they are technically flash cards, they don’t get used at all in the traditional sense of a flash card, as in me quizzing Ruby and her memorizing things. I pick an activity based on what Ruby is interested in. She invents all kinds of ways to use the cards. Sometimes they stay on the felt board and she organizes them or she asks me about them or she goes and finds a book to match pictures. Most of the time they get pulled into all sorts of other play. The cards have been used to: retell familiar stories or tell new ones, for counting, for matching, to make animal sounds, as an inspiration to pretend to be different animals or as an addition to her little barn or doll house, as puzzles, to sing songs, and many other things I am sure I am not remembering at this moment but will as soon as I hit post.
We started with Eric Carle Counting Cards when she was really into numbers and counting things. I picked Eric Carle because we had picked The Very Hungry Caterpillar as the theme for her first birthday. I enjoy the artwork, so it was an easy choice. You can buy all sorts of cards that may be of interest and we seem to get sets as gifts and this was a good way to use them. The dollar section at Target sometimes has fun cards. We have a set of space cards from Target and they have been much-loved. We have also enjoyed exploring feeling words with these Todd Parr Feelings Cards. I found this was a great way to identify how we are feeling. I found a set of science cards that have some advanced topics but were too entertaining to pass up. (I should do a post of all of the fun geeky toys and books we love.)
I keep the cards we are not using in a bin up on a shelf in the closet. This way they are all together and easy to find when I want to switch them out.
You can make your own felt activities as well. You can purchase felt at the fabric store or like most other things, felt is available on Amazon as well. Felt is pretty cheap so you can make a lot of activities for very little money.
I just cut these activities by hand with a pair of sharp scissors, no sewing required. You can find ideas and templates online if you search. Pinterest is always full of ideas that are beautifully executed, if you do not want to freehand it. These activities can be played with on your velcro board or even on another piece of felt placed on a table or on a cookie sheet.
You can take your felt play to the next level and make activities for the holidays.
We simply cut a big oval from orange felt and then cut out different face options in black. The Christmas tree is cut from a large piece of green felt. The ornaments are made of felt as well. They are actually hand sewn to be a bit more sturdy. They also have velcro dots sewn on the back. The tree itself also has velcro on the back to hold it up. This has been popular in December for the past few years in our house.
You can also buy pre-cut felt items on Etsy as well as Amazon. We had numerous sets when I was a children’s librarian. A few popular ones were 5 Little Monkeys, Brown Bear Brown Bear, and Fairy Tale Sets.
Probably the most popular velcro board activity I have made is the family and friends match. I simply printed out pictures of family and friends. I typed up their names in a word document and printed those out as well. I cut them all to size and laminated them and added a velcro dot to the back. VOILA! Instant activity. I will admit that my laminator is my favorite crafting item EVER. All it takes is an inexpensive laminator and some laminating sheets and you are in business. You can print anything, laminate it and slap a velcro dot on it. I will dig around on Pinterest for ideas. I saved some ideas to my Felt and Magnet Activity board if you are looking for a jumping off point with homemade items. I will whip up an activity of my own when Ruby shows an interest in something or if we are having a fun themed party. I don’t put a huge amount of effort into making things look perfect for a few reasons. The main reason I don’t aim for perfect is because my goal is to get it into her hands when she is actually interested in it rather than spending a long time making something that looks perfect but that she is no longer interested in. The other reason I don’t aim for perfect is that I like to take the pressure off myself. These activities are for fun. I am not selling them in a store. They are going to be played with and sometimes destroyed, loved really hard or lost. Also, Ruby loves that I make things that are relevant to what she is interested in and doesn’t care if things are cut perfectly.
What is your favorite felt/velcro board activity?