Children have beautiful imaginations. When my daughter was just a tiny baby, I watched her vision, her touch, blossom into language. Every feather, each bloom, was assimilated into her awareness. Free of paradigms, she made associations which gave me new vision as a parent. As she gets older, all of these delicate pieces come together to create her stories. Full of wit, candor, and sometimes surprising introspection, I witness her using story to explain, heal, and even shape her own reality. And she is only three.
Feltboard storytelling is a simple way to create and recreate stories for parent and child alike. The small shapes are easy for any child to handle and they can be created right at the moment of inspiration. Shape sets can be given to the child as a gift to mark days of celebration or seasonal festivals.
Even my 17 month old son found inspiration in felt snowflakes when our feltboard was placed by a window on a very snowy morning. The tactile and visual representation of the element outside allowed him to make a beautiful connection.
Some suggestions for use:
-Use simple characters out of a book to enhance your child’s experience of the story. Your child may simply retell the story or even go beyond.
-Provide your child with a few elements and encourage her to tell you a story using them. A bird, a tree, and a nest may lead to a natural conclusion. A pig, a comb, and a tree might have a surprising and imaginative result.
-Use collections of shapes from your daily rhythms. A bedtime storyboard might have a pillow, a book, and a doll. Or elements from nature might spark a tale of a walk through the forest.
one or or more yards of flannel in neutral colors
pushpins or heavy staples
board – heavy artboard, a small corkboard or lightweight piece of wood
assorted felt pieces
Wash and iron your flannel piece. I used pale blue as the main background for our board, and a narrower strip of snow white or grass green can serve as the ‘ground’ in a scene. Stretch the flannel around your board and attach securely in the back.
Wool felt makes warm dimensional elements and is preferred over acrylic felt. Wool felt can often be purchased locally but is also available online.
You only need a few felt elements to begin with, and you may add more as you find inspiration. Try letting your older child draw a simple shape for you as a template or even cutting the felt himself.
Bernadette Emerson is a mother, wife, writer, musician, haphazard gardener, erratic blogger, and occasionally rearranges her sewing studio to make it look like she has been productive. She lives in Boulder County, Colorado, where the mountains look pretty from the front yard.