Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 Most Popular Posts from 2014

2014 has been a great year! Bean turned 4 in January (she'll be 5 next month!) and Munchkin turned 3 in August. We had a lovely year playing, crafting and learning together. I definitely devoted more time to making felt crafts, which my kids and our readers love! I also began writing reviews for the TOS Crew and Safari Ltd. - expect more from both this year! I also became an Independent Consultant for Usborne Books and More (check out our Online Store for awesome books!) and opened an Etsy store to sell our felt crafts. So if you ever see something on the blog and want it, contact us on Etsy and we'll create a custom order for you! We will also continue our Game of the Month series now that the crazy holiday season is over. In January we will be featuring eeBoo's Preschool Lotto Game! My top goal for 2014 is to make printables available for our felt crafts! (Hopefully this can be accomplished sooner, rather than later! Wish us luck!)

Here are our Most Popular Posts of 2014! And four honorable mentions, to round us out to 14! You'll notice that the majority of our popular posts are felt related... I guess I know what to focus on this year! So be on the look-out for more felt crafts this year, because there will be so many more to come!

Tetris-Inspired Felt Board - These Tetris pieces are simple to make and you can even use your collection of scrap felt! We love to use them for math and puzzle activities. They are great to take along on car rides, just bring a tray and a piece of felt to play with them on.

Here's a decent printable to make your own (scroll down to near the bottom, click on Tetris Designs - the first page has color Tetris pieces and the second page has blank Tetris pieces).

Felt Cookies - Felt cookies are so fun to make! Ok, I admit I am a nerd and I love to craft and hand sew, so yes, I do enjoy making them. But these were one of my favorite crafts to make this year, and now I make them as gifts for cousins and friends' children. They are great for pretend play activities and you can make them in all shapes and sizes. Design them anyway you like - chocolate or peanut butter, sugar cookie, frosted, etc. You can even add little stitches or beads for sprinkles. They are adorable! And also make really great color matching manipulatives for toddlers!

Felt Alphabet Bean Bags (lowercase) - I loved making these bean bags and I knew immediately that they were going to be used often. They are great for sensory play, and make spelling and reading activities more fun and relaxing.

Moon Phases Felt Board - At the start of last year, I began making more themed felt boards and incorporated them into our homeschool lessons. This felt board was really simple to make and was a great hands-on tool to learn about the phases of the moon.

DIY Train Table Play Mat - Roads - We love our train table, but sometimes we like to find new ways to play with it. That's why one day I covered the table in green felt and created some roads for it. The kids have been able to find more uses for the train table. Sadly I haven't gotten around to posting about the other train table pieces I have made since then. I made mountains, farm land, a camp site and lake/river area. Look forward to seeing it soon!

Solar System Felt Board - This is one of our favorite felt boards and we still use for space themed activities. It's fun to name the planets and order them. It can also be used in play scenes.

Frozen Sensory Small World Play - Easily a super fun activity for winter days. We can't wait to set one up tomorrow, now that we finally have some snow on the ground. All you need are some toys (we used a Frozen play set), a sensory bin and some snow. You could also use a snow-alternative.

How to Make a Felt Teepee - Here's a simple craft to help learn about Native American history. You can also use them in themed small worlds using Safari Ltd's Powhatan Indians TOOB.

Apple Picking Math Felt Board - Here is a super fun preschool math activity that helps to practice counting. It is a great way to create a game of learning addition and subtraction.

Exploring Space - We adore Safari Ltd. and had so much fun reviewing their educational space toys! We created hands-on learning activities about exploring space.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few additional activities that were popular on the blog this year, but especially at home.

DIY Felt Sewing Shapes - Bean loves sitting and crafting with me, so I created a few hands-on learning tools that will help her practice sewing and stitching. These colorful felt shapes were made using a Mr. Printables pattern.

Marvel Characters Felt Board Pieces - Bean has about 200 Marvel felt board pieces (yeah, being a crazy, nerdy mom, I made a ton). There are plenty of characters to create unique stories and go on superhero adventures in Marvel City.

Little Blue Truck Felt Board - While Bean loves the Marvel characters, Munchkin adores his set of Little Blue Truck felt board pieces. He adores this book and has so much fun playing with the characters and creating his own unique stories. Great for storytelling activities and you can use the same process with basically any sticker.

Felt Uppercase Letter Bean Bags - We made uppercase letters (and numbers) to go with our lowercase letters. They are great for toddlers and preschoolers. You can use them as sensory manipulatives that promote literacy skills. You can practice ordering and spelling. You can also practice writing by tracing the letters with your finger.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Felt Play Mats

Whew! It has been a busy crafting season for us! But it was all worth it! I love when children open their gifts and are surprised to see what they find (not many people I know actually make gifts) and then create fun ways to play with them! So I am very excited to see how the children react to their presents. Here are some more of our felt play mats (you can see our last batch of felt play mats here).

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. 

The last few felt play mats you saw that were only half complete came together really well. For this dinosaur world play mat, I added a sort of mud slide/swamp/rocky area in one corner. I made this by layering brown felt, gradually getting smaller as they get closer to the top. I needle felted them in place (yes, you can needle felt sheets of felt!) and then sewed Fun Fur Lime Green Yarn around the edge. If I could change one thing, I wouldn't have sewn the yarn all the way around and simply stopped at the edge of the felt.

I wanted to add a volcano to this play mat, but I wanted it to be removable as well, so I did not sew or needle felt it to the play mat. I used the same pattern from our felt teepees, and just sewed completely up the edge, instead of cutting a hole for the door and leaving space for flaps. The stitches were on the inside, but you could still see the line. So I got out red, orange and yellow Wool Roving and my needle felting supplies (Dimensions Single Needle Felting Tool and Foam Block). Sadly I was too focused on making the lava flow that I completely forgot to take pictures! I needle felted the red right down into the top of the volcano, so you can see where it is spilling out. I'm still new to needle felting, so it probably looks terrible to experts, but my 4 year old cousin loved it!

These dinosaurs look right at home!

Best part about leaving the bottom open - letting dinos hide inside or poke their head out of the top!

Here is Bean's play mat. It turns out the first two play mats I made became their favorites and couldn't part with them. :) Bean requested that I add a cave to this one. I cut out an oval shape and cut it in half (using the other half for another cave) and needle felted the edges to the felt bottom.

Then I added brown wool roving around the edge and a mix of dark green and light green wool roving across the top of the cave.

The green wool roving wraps around the edge in some places and was needle felted to the top of the cave wall.

Bean loves it! She loves hoping her toys across the rocks, stopping at the flower patch (french knots using embroidery thread), taking a quick nap in the cave, or visiting the mossy area to take a sip at the fresh spring.

I also added some needle felted parts to Munchkin's felt play mat. There was already a patch of flowers, so I just added some green and brown around the base of the cave.

He loves that you can see through the cave! Little animals can escape out the back if a big, hungry animal walks by (his observation).

Probably the hardest felt play mat to design and make was the Frozen inspired one. I debated between making a scene from the coronation dance hall, but most of the movie was spent outside on a snowy mountain, so I went with the mountain.

I found a picture online and drew my inspiration from it. I added needle felted clouds around the mountain, which was a dark grey color. I cut out two snowy mountains in the distance. I needle felted two green trees with snow on them near the bottom of the grey mountain. I tried to layer the snow/mountains around the big grey mountain to make it look like it was more in the distance... Not really sure how I feel about it, but it looks fine enough. I basically wanted the characters to be able to stand on that slopping hill and be able to "look up" and see Elsa and the ice castle.

Last but not least I had to create the castle. I reallllly wanted to painted details to the castle, but I was afraid of messing it up, so I kept it a plain light blue. Glitter felt would have been awesome to use for the castle, but there was none available at any of my local craft stores. Oh well. I also made a handful of felt board stickers (laminate the sticker, cut around the edge, glue to a piece of felt and cut around the edge - ta da!) to go with this play mat. The characters were Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Sven, and Olaf. I made sure to choose an Elsa that was using her ice powers.

Next was the second Marvel City felt board. This one I focused on making big city buildings. I also decided to try using glue instead of sewing. Elmer's Craft Bond Glue works wonderfully on felt and it's the only glue I use for my felt crafts. I only wish the windows were more uniform, but at least they look like comic book style buildings. This felt play mat can also be rolled up (another great feature of the craft bond glue - it's flexible!).

I also made two new batches of felt board stickers (directions on how to make them). For this batch I used red felt for the good guys and blue felt for the bad guys.

You can store them in a ziploc, a lunchbox (we use a Spider-Man lunch box for hours - it's full to bursting!) or a small tray. Or use whatever type of container you typically use to store your felt board pieces.

Here's my progress on the other Marvel city felt play mat. I added a street, three buildings and some needle felted clouds. And yeah. That is an orange sun. It will soon be yellow, now that I've gone to the store and picked up three new packs of mixed wool roving. More colors = more options.

I sewed on all of the doors, and I needle felted Dr. Strange's window. I tried for a psychedelic look, and thankfully the mother of the child who will be receiving this got right away that this was meant to be Dr. Strange's place! Phew. The door knob is also needle felted. The buildings are all slightly tucked under the edge of the road. I will be adding grass trim along this edge, though I haven't yet.

S for strange!

Ignore the cooked egg in the sky. The heroes look right at home! You can see the other buildings in our last update. This play mat is still in the works, so I'll share it again in another post when it is finally finished. :)

I started on this play mat, originally going to make a forest with a road through it. 

And then I scrapped the road and added train tracks and the edge of a pond. 

I needle felted the tracks in place (so much faster than sewing!), and needle felted a grassy patch between the tracks and a sandy shore around the pond. 

These last two play mats were for a pair of sisters. They like animals, especially big cats and monkeys. I paired these play mats with Safari Ltd.'s Wild TOOB and Zoo Babies TOOB, though I had been hoping to find the Big Cats TOOB and Monkeys and Apes TOOB. Sadly I could not find them at any of our local stores. The Wild and Zoo Babies TOOB have monkeys and tigers in them though, so that's why I chose those two.

I used our own Safari Ltd. animals for the pictures, to show you the size. I based this felt play mat off the rivers in China, so hopefully the tigers will like it! I added the fun fur green yarn around the edge of the river for grass.

For the second play mat I added a smaller water area with a grass trim and a big open space for animals to move around.

Hopefully everyone enjoys their play mats! I actually still have 3 more to make for Christmas! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...