If you’re traveling with kids, this travel felt board is a super quick DIY craft that makes a great activity for kids stuck on a plane or in a car. Less than one hour to make and under five dollars…you can’t beat that!
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Summer is going to be here soon, and for lots of families that means VACATIONS! I love to travel. I get a thrill out of seeing new places and experiencing different cultures, even within my own country.
Traveling with two kids under four can be tricky, but it really is doable. With kids three and under, we’ve gone to Vancouver, Disneyland, San Francisco, and Boston. We’ve done thirteen-hour car rides and five-hour plane rides. It takes planning, but travel with little kids can be a lot of fun.
One of my tricks for managing travel with little kids (aside from Dum Dums and watching movies on the iPad…survival mode, people) is having a stash of special activities that the kids have never done before…or that they do rarely.
Last fall we took a week-long trip to New England. I have always wanted to see the changing leaves there, and the stars aligned, so we went! Hooray! Except for the cross-country flight with two little kids it took to get us there.
Before we went, I made a travel felt board for Little Man to play with on the plane. I love this travel board! I found the original idea for it on Etsy, but the listing is gone now, and I’ve never seen a tutorial for one like this, so I thought I’d share how I made it. It took me less than an hour to make the basic set and it cost less than three dollars!
- It’s easy and cheap to make. Making the board and my basic set of shapes to play with took me less than an hour. To make the more detailed sets takes a little more time, but it’s a good activity to do while you watch TV. Cost for my materials was less than $3.00. I bought shoelaces for $3.00, but you only need one per felt board, so that’s only $1.50. Felt is often on sale for 25 cents a sheet, so that’s only 50 cents for the board, and then 25 cents more for each color you need to buy to make your play shapes. Can’t beat that!
- It’s super portable. When I’m traveling, I want to pack as little as possible. So, any toys and activities I take have to be small, and they have to be worth the space they take up. This travel board rolls up small and is light-weight so Little Man can carry it in his own backpack.
- It’s reversible. Two sides means two different background colors, which makes it more fun to play with multiple felt sets. I made one side light blue to look like sky. The other side is a darker blue that makes a great ocean.
- It has a nifty pocket. Pockets are fun…and practical. Because you only sew three sides of the felt board, the whole thing is essentially one big pocket that you can use to store the felt pieces when you’re not playing with them. I love having an easy way to keep everything together. Plus, it’s easy to slide a book inside the pocket while you play to create a hard surface. I take books when we travel anyway, so it’s not anything extra to pack!
Little Man has gotten so much use out of this little set. If you want to make your own, here’s what you’ll need.
Travel Felt Board
Note: These are my ABSOLUTE favorite scissors for sewing. They’re a bit pricey, but they’re worth EVERY penny. I keep mine put away where my kids can’t get to them and ruin them by using them on paper, and they’re still super sharp after more than five years of use.
- 2 felt sheets (9×12) in the colors of your choice (I did light blue and bright blue)
- 1 shoelace
- sewing machine and thread (If you’re not inclined to sewing, I’m pretty sure you could totally do this with hot glue, but I haven’t actually tried it.)
- straight pins
- felt scraps in assorted colors for making your shapes/play sets
- shape templates
- freezer paper & iron (optional…I love THIS tutorial that explains how you can use freezer paper to make cutting felt easy-peasy.)
- Place your two sheets of felt on top of each other. Line them up carefully. Pin (or skip the pinning if you’re lazy like me an able to overcome your perfectionist tendencies in the name of saving time).
- Fold your shoelace in half and place between the two sheets of felt
- Sew around THREE sides of your felt board, leaving one of the short sides open.
Note: If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can use hot glue or fabric glue instead.
- And, you’re done with the felt board! Wahoo for simple projects.
- To make your felt pieces to play with on the board, simply choose your colors of felt, cut out the downloadable templates below, trace onto the felt (or use the freezer paper method HERE), and cut them out. I like to keep the felt pieces for each set in little baggies and slip them into the pocket before rolling up the board for storage. Voila!
Here are the downloadable templates I made for my own travel board, plus links to additional sets I’ve designed over the years. Enjoy!
Back Yard Fun Template (Free Printable!)
Creative Shapes Template (Free Printable!)
Want MORE felt play sets for your travel felt board? Try these!
- “Under the Sea” felt play set
- “Birthday Wishes” cupcake felt play set
- “Silly Jack-o-lantern” Halloween felt play set
I hope these give you and your little ones lots of fun creative play time (and maybe give you a few minutes of peace on your next plane ride).
P.S. – What other types of travel felt board sets would you like to see templates for? A race track? An alphabet? The sky (and my limited drawing ability) is the limit!
As always this is brilliant, Megan! My daughter loves felt boards and have been known to play with them for hours at our local library! I’m definitely pinning this to share 🙂 Thank you for joining us this week on #shinebloghop. Always such a pleasure to have you!
Thanks, Maria! My Little Man loves to play with this toy, and I just couldn’t keep it to myself, so I’m glad you like it.
Have you done a travel set for Christmas? Decorate the tree with ornaments and lights. Star on top. Gifts for under the tree
Thank you for sharing this. It has kept my four kids busy during school holidays. ?
Love this felt board! I decided I am going to make one for my Samaritan Purse Christmas Shoebox for a boy 2-4 years old. I’ve been making shoeboxes for kids for a few years now and decided this will be a great gift. I was going to go with making a felt board out of a diy DVD cassette that I saw online but the felt board would be too small as would the pieces. I like your way much better. And, the felt pieces don’t have to be too small. I was thinking using your ocean templates and your house templates and maybe finding some dinosaur ones as well. Thank you so much! Wish me good luck!
I’m so glad you like it, and it makes me happy to know you’re going to use it to bring joy to someone who could REALLY use it!
Thank you so much! ?
I’m new at this,could you please send me all the free printable that I can make for my 2 grandchildren(boys)