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Engaging Toddlers with Felt-Boards

Getting young children engaged in books can be a real challenge. Toddlers and preschoolers have boundless energy and their minds bounce from idea to idea at a million miles an hour. Just getting them to sit still through an entire book can be tough!

While some children seem to love books from the moment they’re born, many more need to develop an appreciation over time. Finding ways for them to engage in the story could be the difference.

A simple, homemade felt board could be all you need. A felt board is nothing more than a large piece of felt that acts as the background, or stage, and a collection of smaller felt cut-outs. Because felt sticks to itself, you can use the board hanging on the wall, on an easel, or propped against the back of a chair.

With your toddlers and preschoolers, read a story and then have them play with a corresponding felt set. It will let them explore the story, characters, even themes, in a creative and exciting way. It gives them a chance to interpret the story, which can be the difference between learning to read and learning to love to read.

I'll admit, this project takes a little bit of planning ahead and a touch of the crafting gene, but anyone can do it. If you don't trust your own artistic ability, there are a ton of free templates available online. Just Google "felt board" or "flannel board". What makes this such a great craft, besides the educational value, is that felt is very inexpensive and, once cut out, you can use the pieces over and over again. You can even combine them to make other stories, or let your kids go nuts with all of them and create their own wacky felt adventures.

Below are some specific books and an idea for a coordinating felt board game.


Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Krista A. Says: In solid, bold color felt, cut out six pieces in the shape of simple houses. Then cut out one small white mouse. Read Mouse Paint and then, without the kids looking, hide the mouse on the felt board behind one of the houses. Then the kids get to take turns guessing where the mouse is hidden using this fun little rhyme: Little mouse, little mouse, are you in the RED house?
Amazon Says: One day three white mice discover three jars of paint--red, blue, and yellow. Both parents and children alike will appreciate this lighthearted presentation of a lesson in col more...
Amazon Says: One day three white mice discover three jars of paint--red, blue, and yellow. Both parents and children alike will appreciate this lighthearted presentation of a lesson in color. “Walsh’s cut-paper collage illustrations have bold colors and just the right simplicity for the storyline. A real charmer that’s great fun as well as informative.”--School Library Journal less...
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Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
Krista A. Says: A fun book about a bear who just woke up from hibernating and can't get enough to eat! Cut out foods that a bear would like to eat (fruits, nuts, etc) and things they would never eat (pizza, hamburgers, candy). Let the kids "feed" the bear and encourage them to tell you a story about their bear and his food by asking questions like, "What is your bear's favorite food?" or "Why doesn't the bear eat bubble gum?"
Amazon Says: When springtime comes, in his warm winter den a bear wakes up very hungry and thin!..." Bear finds some roots to eat, but that's not enough. He wants more! Wit more...
Amazon Says: When springtime comes, in his warm winter den a bear wakes up very hungry and thin!..." Bear finds some roots to eat, but that's not enough. He wants more! With his friends' help, he finds some berries, clover, and fish to eat, but that's not enough. Bear wants more! How Bear's friends help him to finally satisfy his HUGE hunger in a most surprising way will enchant young readers. Karma Wilson's rhythmic text and Jane Chapman's vibrant illustrations make Bear Wants More a perfect springtime read-aloud. less...
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Krista A. Says: This is one of my favorite felt boards. The kids can play by creating monsters out of cut out parts (big round circles for heads, funny shaped mouths, crazy hair, etc) and then make them go away part by part - just like the book!
Amazon Says: Caldecott Award-winning author-artist Ed Emberley has created an ingenious way for children to chase away their nighttime fears. Kids can turn the pages of this die-cut book a more...
Amazon Says: Caldecott Award-winning author-artist Ed Emberley has created an ingenious way for children to chase away their nighttime fears. Kids can turn the pages of this die-cut book and watch the Big Green Monster grow. Then, when they're ready to show him who's in charge, they'll turn the remaining pages and watch him disappear! This lavish reissue features dramatic die-cut eyes and sparkling foil on the cover. less...
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