This past fall my library was given a grant to develop circulating early literacy kits. As I was going through catalogs, I realized that I could make most of the felt stuff better myself. This is my first completed prop to go along with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I am really excited about it and will give you my tips and tricks below.
The original idea came to me from Twodaloo. I really liked the design and "wow" factor. My only is that I wanted young kids to be able to play with it and small wooden circles and coconuts make a choking hazard (great idea for home, but not for a public library). I also wanted it to be low cost as people will lose the parts. I wanted to be able to easily recreate parts so we don't have to withdraw the kits as parts disappear.
My mom and I followed the instructions on Twodaloo to create the trunk. I used my mom because I do not sew (and she does). I thought that sewed trunks would make them more durable. Just a note-1 yard of fleece will create 6 trunks. Also, we added 1 inch extra around our arm as neither of us have thin arms and I wanted adults to be able to use it too.
While my mom sewed trunks, I cut out leaves. I wanted a pattern for these as I wanted them to look as close to the real thing as possible. One of my favorite sources for patterns is Making Learning Fun. I used the leaf and coconut patterns from here and blew them up on the copy machine to 121%. I used three different shades of green to make my trees fun.
For assembly, I hot glued 2 big leaves and 3 small leaves to the top of each tree trunk. I thought that the hot glue would give it a little more durability for the public than tacky glue (my normal glue of choice). It helped to glue the leaves more to the side than the top of the trunk as felt isn't super thick. I didn't want falling leaves as I told my story.
Next came the coconuts. I cut out 156 coconuts as I made 6 puppets (26 letters x 6 puppets). I puffy painted the letters of the alphabet onto these. I had to do them in two batches as I ran out of room for them to dry.
Once they were dry, I added velco to the back of each coconut and added them to my tree. It was at this point that I learned that velcro doesn't stick well to fleece. Luckily, it still works well on the felt leaves.
Here is a picture of the puppet on my arm. Taking puppet selfies one-handed is a little difficult!
While I really like the finished product, if I was making another set of these, I would make the trunk in brown felt. This would also mean that I would add more than an inch around my arm pattern as felt doesn't "give" the same way as fleece.
This week's round-up is being hosted by Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime. You can always find Flannel Friday at the official blog, on Pinterest, and on Facebook.