Friday, October 18, 2013

Flannel Friday: Halloween Toys For The Children's Room

One of the first things I made as a plaything for the children's room was a basic flannel board. Just a picture frame covered in gray felt, glued on the underside and with a bunch of shapes cut from felt and stiffened felt.

Last year I was entranced by a haunted house play mat that was a Flannel Friday offering. I also loved a set of "peek a boo" boards that Lakeshore Learning makes, but that I just don't have the funding for right now. Craft challenged as I am, I wondered if I could make the boards myself, and perhaps even one for Halloween.

Target did not have the little finger puppets used by the clever crafter who made the haunted house, but between them and Michaels I was able to find a lot of felt and foam Halloween stickers, plus some stiff felt pumpkins in various sizes.
By the way, Halloween stuff goes out earlier and earlier. I was out looking for this stuff on Columbus Day weekend, and the selection was sparse. The one good thing is that most of what I bought was on sale!

First, I took the felt pumpkins and used them as templates to cut more pumpkins, again out of stiffened felt. I cut various small shapes from some stiffened black felt scraps and voila! A pumpkin felt board was created.

If you are even mildly crafty, you can make one of these in minutes. I love coming in and seeing what new faces the kids have made!

The haunted house was a lot harder, because, as I said, I am craft challenged. I don't cut well and I can't draw. But I trolled the Internet and found a fabulous haunted house template as a craft. You can find the whole thing HERE. I wouldn't do this as a kid craft--you'd have to cut out a pattern per kid, it's too complicated for preschoolers to do it themselves. But as a pattern--lovely! I printed it out and then enlarged it onto 11X 17 paper on our copier.

I cut out the pattern, traced it onto a piece of foamcore board, and then cut and glued white felt onto the board. It was not picture perfect accurate, but if I'd gotten my husband to do this project, it wouldn't have been ready till NEXT Halloween, and I was planning a second layer of felt anyway.

I placed various stickers on the board to get an idea of where I wanted to put windows and the door.  And then I cut black felt to cover this. I ended up doing the black in several pieces, which enabled me to shape things better. An X-acto knife was used to cut the door and window openings, and then I cut felt shapes for doors and windows pretty much by eye, except for the round window, which I made by tracing a circle that was the right size. I folded the edges of the doors down a little bit like flaps so that they would be easier to open and close.


Doors closed!                                                                                     Some doors opened!

After I was finished I had the idea to put numbers on each door, so I hunted through my foam stickers and found numbers to attach to each door:

I bound the cut edges of this with duct tape and put it out for the kids to play with it to see what happened.

And promptly found that several of the stickers and most of the numbers had been pulled off!
The sticker glue wasn't strong enough to thwart little fingers!  So I glue gunned everything back down. We will see what happens next, but this was fun to make and I am definitely going to be making more of these.  Next up--a Thanksgiving turkey flannel set, and perhaps a Christmas house--or even one for my "Nutcracker" program! 

One per month. The possibilities are endless--as long as the supplies at the craft stores are there. I've already gotten some Thanksgiving stuff and I'd better buy my Christmas things now too.......

Friday, October 4, 2013

Get Ready For Halloween: The Ghost's Dinner

 Full Disclosure: I originally published this entry in 2011, but was just starting to be aware of Flannel Friday back then. And I checked and this story isn't on the Flannel Friday Pinterest board.

So for those reasons, I am offering it this week. Enjoy!

Sometimes size really DOES matter. At least in picture books!

Take the book "The Ghost's Dinner".It's a charming little story about a ghost who invites his friends to dinner, and as they eat different foods they turn different colors. Sweet and funny. It would be perfect for story hours, if it wasn't for the fact that it's a tiny book--too small for the whole group to see!
You could do this as a magnet story. But you'd have to make multiple sets of ghosts and keep moving them on and off the board. Awkward and not practical, especially with squirming small children.

I've used"Scat the Cat", that I'd used for years. I'm not sure where I'd gotten it originally (pre-Internet!) but a few years ago when I still had an assistant, we found it on a website with a clever gimmick. You cut the cat shape out of a file folder, slid different colors of paper into the file, then pulled them out to change the cat's color.

Hmm. If I could do "Scat" that way, could I do "The Ghost's Dinner" similarly?

Though I no longer have an assistant at work I still have The Man of the House (it's a Laura Ingalls Wilderism), my spouse of many years, veteran of many a weird library project. I showed him the book, showed him "Scat" and set him to work.

"Make it BIG,"I said. "It will be easier to handle and everyone will be able to see it in a group"

He took 2 large pieces of poster board. On one he drew the scene with the ghosts at the table and cut it out with an Xacto knife. He put a large piece of clear material (file cover, I think) on the underside of the cut outs. And then he glued it to the second piece of poster board like a pocket--leaving the right hand side open.

I taped large construction paper sheets together to slide into it. Thin colored poster board would work too since it comes in a variety of colors.

And as I tell the story, I slide each sheet out and the ghosts change color.Like this:

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