flying: felt activity books.

07 July 2012

Soon, I'll be on an airplane with three kids for a lengthy set of flights. I'm pretty sure the task should be considered an Olympic sport and if it was, I'd be going for the gold. I have planned the hell out of these flights. I have a huge list of in-flight, kid friendly activities I've thought through and another list of items to purchase, download, prepare.

I'm fortunate that my kids have always been great flyers, but a bit nervous to see how a very active baby deals with 'sitting still' for hours (days?!) on end. And, every flight is unique in the sense that you are at the mercy of hoping for easy gate connections and helpful flight crews. So, it must be said that the project you are about to read about was born out of fear. My strategy is to pack a billion interesting things for my two oldest kids so that when the baby needs my full attention, I'll be available.

My kids love it when I give them a handmade gift. So, these books (which they've seen me making and thrown fits of excitement about already) will be packed into their individual carry-ons for playing with on the plane. I've created one personalized book for each child, made out of felt. My focus was to create activities that would require a bit of imagination or focused time. In other words, I didn't want them to just flip through the book in a few minutes. Lots of pictures follow....

My eight-year-old daughter's book looks like this:

The first page features a mailbox-- the flag raises with a snap system and the box is hollow so that she can write and 'mail' real miniature letters. The second page provides a pen and three envelopes with individual instructions to 1. create a postcard by drawing on one side and writing a letter on the opposite, 2. write a letter and place it in an envelope, 3. add a postage stamp. The envelopes contain all of the miniature supplies needed for the activities.

Tic-tac-toe! The board is on the left, the markers are held in the 'envelope' at the right.
Dress a doll on the left (and braid, bun, twist her hair!). A full wardrobe of clothing on the right.

'Flashcards' (just rectangles of felt, written on with a paint pen) for the 7 and 8's multiplication tables are stored in the pockets on the right. The denim pockets on the left provide a happy slot to place a card when the right answer is given. A fun, interactive way for her to 'test' herself or to initiate a game of multiplication snap. 

On the left, there's an envelope containing a puzzle (an interesting picture from a magazine, cut out and mounted on felt) and a marble maze that velcros on and off the page. On the right, a lock and key securing a heart with a picture of our family inside.

The back cover contains a felt envelope. Inside, my daughter will find a personalized story I've written for her.

My now six-year-old son is getting a Star Wars themed felt activity book. Here's what his looks like...

On the left, C3PO needs to be built. His body parts are all connected with velcro. On the right, a Star Wars puzzle (Again created by mounting a picture on felt and cutting up the pieces. I used a Star Wars greeting card for the artwork.). The page also has a place for a pen and a notebook. I've filled these with an invisible ink pen and a color coordinated notebook so that he can write sci-fi notes in invisible ink.

On the left side of the page, unbutton the forest to find Yoda in his hiding place. On the right side of the book, select your light saber and do some target practice. The light sabers each hook via a snap and the target is a baby food jar lid covered in felt. When the target is pressed on, it makes a cracking noise.

Fly the jedi ships to the mother ship. Each air ship is mounted on a bead and it slides and snaps along a piece of elastic. One goes into the ship, another flies out of the ship. The glossy black spots are black beads in the shape of stars. The blue patch is mounted via velcro and is removable. It's a marble race pouch just like the one featured in my daughter's book.

On the left page is a 'death star' maze. R2D2 is held in place with velcro and allows the player to move him via the maze to the center of the death star. On the right is a Darth Vadar robot hand-- place your hand inside and see what it feels like. Flip the switches and imagine what it would be like to have a robotic hand.

On the left page, the death star houses three finger puppets (all are functioning finger puppets, but also have a small strip of velcro on them so they could be played with 'felt board' style throughout the book. On the right page, finger puppets Luke and Leia fly through space.

The back of the book is the same as my daughter's book with a envelope built in. Inside my son will find a personalized story I've written for him, at his reading level.

The baby's book looks like this...
The left page features a race track with two tiny cars held in place with elastic. The stop and go signs are held on with velcro so that they can be reversed. The right side of the page is a lion's head, with all sorts of different ribbons making up his mane. A baby food jar lid is hidden beneath his face-- which makes a fun clicking sound when pressed.

On the left, a house with windows that open to reveal pictures of handmade toys (I clipped them out of a art magazine). On the right, a frog ready to catch flies with his long floppy tongue.

A vegetable and fruit garden is on the left. The carrots can be picked. The apples can be plucked off of the tree. And, they can all be placed in the big bushel basket on the right side's truck. The truck's door also opens and it's wheels can be unbuttoned and spun around.

The left side of the page features a working abacus. The right side is a crocodile with big teeth. In his mouth, there are removable felt fish and the red pocket (at the far right) is now filled with a baby-sized toothbrush so that the crocodile's teeth can be brushed.

The pocket on the left side holds a little crazy guy. The owl on the right is hiding a surprise under her wing.

The back of the baby's book is no different. His book also provides a felt envelope for a personalized story that I've written.

Many pages of these books started with inspiration from others. I searched the internet for ideas and located lots of inspiration for similar books on pinterest here. And, this post is linked at Skip to My Lou!


Ruebe Haigs said...

Well done to you. These are amazing and your children will love them. You amaze me with what you make and do, where do you find the time and the never ending energy and enthusiasm.

Sophia said...

Holy crap! When do you have time to do this? I am amazed! Have a great flight!

Krissy said...

These are AWESOME! My daughter is lucky if she gets a new pen and notebook when we fly! Love your blog, Shelby!

Pat said...

Please tell me you're an insomniac and this is how you spend your time when the rest of us are sleeping. I can't believe you made three books!!!!

Anonymous said...

Woa very cool activity books. I love the detail and how you personalized them. This would e great for older kids to make for themselves or as gifts.

Hanlie said...

Wow, those are amazing!! You could sell them! Good luck with the flights. I know that it can be utter hell with so many hours, cramped spaces and exhausted kids and parents. NOT FUN AT ALL!!! We are off next week, and I am sooo not looking forward to it. I have really come to despise flying...
But, a great holiday awaits you once you arrive. You are a very brave mamma!!

Ruebe Haigs said...

I am loving reading your blog but we must meet.

Just looking at making my 6 year old a felt book but wondering where in Tbilisi you buy sheets of felt. I have tried some of the under ground wool and bead type shops that are close to Freedom Square but to no avail and also did you glue or sew the pieces.

Angelique from Tbilisi

Shelby from said...

Hi, Angelique! I have a pretty good stash of felt that I've acquired from my trips out of Georgia. When the construction is finished on Pushkin Street, near Freedom Square, there is a tiny craft shop that will *sometimes* sell felt in sheet form. It's about 2 blocks from Freedom Square on the right side as you're walking towards the river. But, otherwise, I'm afraid I haven't found a good source for felt sheets in Tbilisi and just continue to add it to my must purchase list when I am outside of Georgia!

Anonymous said...

I am utterly amazed by your creativity, Shelby! These are wonderful. -Erin

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