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.
- 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 a couple other free templates that I think are totally adorable!
More cute templates from around the web:
“Paper” Doll Dress Up from Billy Bear 4 Kids
Pizza Party from Billy Bear 4 Kids
Mr. Potato Head from The Quiet Book Blog
I’m working on some more templates…an ocean theme that Little Man LOVES and a cupcake birthday party one! I’ll post them once their done, but in the meantime, 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!
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