Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in library (2)


Puppet theater

Our new library, now three quarters of a year old, is fantastic. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, in addition to our infatuation with the children's librarian there, but it's such a large part of our life that I imagine it warrants another mention. We can be found at our library several times a week—sometimes at a story time, sometimes at a children's event, and sometimes just for some good old fashioned mulling about. After all, if we aim our mulling for just the right time we're likely to see a passenger train zip by, and if we're lucky we are sometimes treated to a roaring freight train, too. My only gripe with the library is the plethora of toys scattered throughout the children's area; I've always made it a rule that we forsake these toys, the likes of which we have at home, and immerse ourselves in the scads of literary fun that we doesn't live where we do. In the new library, though, I've had to rethink that practice all for the love of the rather attractive puppet theater they put in.

We don't, after all, have a puppet theater at home (yet), so acting out books and songs while crouching behind a short wooden stage (or not bothering to take such steps to hide, if you're Calvin) is now a part of our regularly scheduled library program, brought to you by childhood imagination in a shroud of giggling glee.


This is how we felt

It's the librarian that made us do it. I have intended to get Calvin a felt board for over a year now, but something or other just always seemed to get in the way. Mostly I struggled between feeling intimidated by the thought of making one, and appalled at the thought of buying something that should be so easy to make. I think I would have gone with my own ignorant waffling for quite some time if Calvin hadn't suddenly become obsessed with the act of playing librarian. We love story time at our library: we love the books, we love the music, we love the rhymes, and oh do we love the felt. It became suddenly impossible to stall the felt board project any further when I walked into our play room to find him sitting on his chair, reading books to his story time participants (of which Mouse was a part).After that I decided it was finally time to put my intimidation to rest, and making a passable felt board was so incredibly easy, I can only wonder why I waited this long.

For our board:
My mom brought us a large cut of felt from one of her craft store trips and I already had a foam board on hand in poster-board size (whatever that is, I didn't measure). I set the foam board on the felt and cut (the felt) to within three inches on all sides. Starting with one side I then folded over the extra and stapled in in place, making sure that the back end of the staple is at the back of the board. I used about 10 staples on the long side and six on the short, although this was probably overkill. Since not all the staples seemed secure I also used three inch masking tape to adhere the loose ends of felt in the back. The board rests nicely on our easel, or on the floor, or pretty much anywhere else he wishes to take it.

For our characters and shapes:
Squares of colorful craft felt are easy to find. We found about twenty different colors at our JoAnn Fabrics store (did you know they actually make felt out of recycled post-consumer plastic bottles? It's called eco-fi), and our Meijer also had a small selection of colors in their craft section. These squares run about 25 to 30 cents per piece. You can also buy adhesive backed felt for creating characters from multiple cuts and colors, although I just used a hot glue gun (better than regular or fabric glue because it doesn't bleed through the felt). I started out with some craft stencils I had, and I cut the first 9 numbers out free-hand, but when things started to get more specific I turned to the internet. To make a collection of animals to go with our Old MacDonald CD I did a Google image search for coloring pages of each animal (for example, "coloring page duck"), saved the image of my choice to my desktop, and used my image preview to get it to the size I wanted. Then I used tracing paper to trace the image from the screen, taped the tracing paper to the main color, and cut out my animal. Voila! To add other colors, like spots on the cow, I taped the same traced picture (now already cut out in the shape of the cow) to the new color of felt (in this case black) and cut out around the details (keep in mind that you want to cut shapes from largest to smallest, since you will be cutting the tracing paper along with the felt). I used hot glue to adhere the different pieces, and a pen or marker to add details I couldn't cut out (although this snags to felt, so I use this technique sparingly).

Our felt collection at this time consists of a school scenario (for Mary Had a Little Lamb), an Old MacDonald collection, and a large Pumpkin with several different shape pieces for making different jack-o-lantern faces. In subsequent shopping trips we have added new colors and now googly eyes as well, and Calvin has requested several more fun sets I can't wait to make. This is one of my favorite toys so far.