Friday, August 26, 2011

My Favorite Creation: Felt Board (Yep, 'I Made It')

Ok, well, my kids are actually my favorite creation, but this is a close second.

About two years ago, my husband and I made this felt board for the kids' playroom. Over time, it has evolved from just being a place the kids could become familiar with letters, colors, and shapes to our most recent "improv game" where we each pick an item and then someone has to tell a story using the items picked by the audience. The kids are even getting good at this game!

Recently I posted some pictures of my playroom re-org and I have had a few questions about this board, so I decided to share how we made it. It really requires minimal skill, but the possibilities are endless.

Here are the main materials:
1 piece of thin wood
Spray Glue
Felt the size of the wood (you can get this at Joann's or another craft show by the yard and it is 72" wide so one side of your board has to be less than 72" or you have to piece felt together)
Wooden Letters, Shapes, and Figures
Velcro with Sticky Tape Backing
Spray Paint

If you want to frame your board, you will also need:
Trim molding
Miter saw

We made this two years ago, so I don't have pictures of the creation process, but here is what we did.

Making the sturdy felt board:

1. Determine how big you want your board to be. And get your materials.
- I wanted this board to look like an old school chalkboard, so I used dark green felt and bought matte white spray paint for the letters so they would look like chalk.
- I bought the backing board at Home Depot and had an employee there cut it to the size I needed so I wouldn't have to do this later (also, it made it so the wood would fit in my van).
2. Get your spray glue, felt, board, and a helper person. Take them outside and create an elevated work surface. (We used two sawhorses and laid the board across them.)
3. Spray the glue all over the top of the board and don't be stingy. Good coverage and stickiness will help the felt stay attached to the board when the kids are manipulating the velcro backed pieces.
4. Give your helper one side of the felt and you take the other. Hold it rather flat and start on one corner of the board and lay the felt on the sticky board. You will want to gently press the felt onto the board, working from one corner out to the other three. If you get any bubbles or puckers, gently lift it back up, spray a little more glue and then continue pressing it down.
5. Trim the excess felt. If you are not going to make a frame, you want to leave a few inches around each side so you can flip the board over and glue the flaps onto the back. If you are going to frame it, then trim the felt close the edges.
6. Securely affix the board to the wall. We used drywall screws and anchors in each corner. This sucker is not going to fall off.

Making the frame:

I found it easiest to create the frame after the board was on the wall, and one side at a time.
1. Paint all of the pieces of your frame. We used really simple trim molding because it already had a cut out that I could use the butt it up to the frame.
2. When the paint is dry, line one piece up on the board, and mark the edges of your feltboard on the frame piece.
3. Take the piece with the marks and use a mitersaw to cut 45 degree angles at each corner.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for all four sides.
5. Nail the pieces to the wall. I used a trim nail-gun. You could use any small nails and a hammer if you don't have a nail-gun.
Making the letters:

Make sure you get thin, lightweight letters.
This may have been the hardest part of this project because I had to sort through all of the letters at Joann's until I found them all.
As an alternative, you could get more felt, print letters from your computer to use as stencils and cut them all out of felt. Felt sticks to felt, so you would be done after you cut them out.
1. Get your letters.
2. Then paint them whatever color(s) you want.
3. Cut the rough half of your sticky back velcro into about 1/2" pieces.
4. When the letters are dry, affix the velcro to the back of each letter.
Now, step back and admire your work. Then, take some great pictures of your kids using it and share them with me!

Here are some of the games we have played:

- Name spelling
- Match letters with shapes (What letter does airplane start with? "A." Then put the airplane next to the "A.")
- Group shapes by color
- Tell stories
-Recite nursery rhymes
- Improv story telling
What games would you play?

I am always getting new ideas for things I can add to this board:

- Spray the initial piece of wood with metal/magnetic paint so the kids could also use magnets on it (honestly, old school magnetic things creep me out because kids put so many things in their mouth. My kids would only be allowed to use the Leap Frog type magnets on the board because they can't get the magnets off the back.)
- Another option to make the board also magnetic would be to apply the felt over a dry erase board or other metal sheet. Might be easier and cheaper than buying the specialty paint.
- Buy wooden squares and cover with chalkboard paint so the kids can insert letters as they need to spell new words. We are currently constrained to one of each letter in the words we can spell.
- Michaels usually carries the wooden items already painted and has recently started carrying a variety of felt sets and even a Dr. Seuss felt story set. As a warning, some of the sets have LOTS of pieces. I glued ours together so they wouldn't have as many pieces floating around.
- Iron on transfers. My kids love Disney characters, so I printed some images off the internet onto iron-on transfer paper and then applied them to felt. The kids like playing with these too.

Thank you for the moment to share our creation!


  1. This is great Carrie...felt boards take me back to my Child Development days at FSU! I turned "The Foot Book" into a felt story board when I was in college...the kids at the preschool where I was doing my practicum LOVED it! If you can get your hands on two copies of the same book, you could cut the images out of one book and attach them to felt and then read from the other book...the kids could put the characters up on the board as you are reading about them...that's what we did! :)


  2. That is a great idea! When Caroline was in daycare, they would be doing nursery rhymes with the felt board at pick up time. It was really cute and part of the inspiration for this one. I was so sure that Caroline was going to miss being in school and the stimulation when I started staying home with her and since I also had her newborn brother, that I practically created our own preschool. Our playroom is somewhat organized by "stations" and I made sure that we bought her favorite school toys for our house too (like a toy lawn mower!).

  3. If you make one, I would love to see it! Please share pics!!!