The girls at the daycare where I work love felting. I introduced this craft to them a few years ago and we all still love getting together to create. Recently we had a needle-felting workshop and the girls were amazingly adept at creating little story props and children's toys. They made balls, mushrooms, hedgehogs, turtles, dollies, birds, mice and boats. You can see some of the items adorning the wet-felted play mats below.
We talked about how effective these little characters are at story time. As the educator models how to use the story mat and accessories the children can soon use the items themselves in imaginative play. Along with needle-felted items I like to include "loose-parts" on the play mats as well. Sticks and stones, chestnuts or conkers, pinecones and glass gems are some examples of things that suit this type of play invitation.
The next workshop we had was to make wet-felted play mats. I usually like to do these on a Saturday morning because they are more labor intensive and take a bit longer. However, being as it is the summer here, the vote was to reserve week-ends for free time and do the workshop during the week. Everyone was a bit tired but they all created amazing story mats! Some created theirs with an actual story in mind and others made theirs to be used any way the child imagines.
This little mat has a lovely cave for the mouse to live in and a gorgeous river running through. Notice the needle-felted mushroom and turtle which transforms this mat. Some stones carefully placed make this mat so inviting.
This mat has an open-ended concept and can be used multiple ways. Right now some unique and colorful mushrooms are placed by the flower garden and some farm animals look right at home by the pond. There are little tree cookie "trees" on the side with a drilled hole and a piece of greenery inserted.
This colorful fall mat is based on the story of the Little Blue Truck. Complete with a mud puddle the children are sure to enjoy this mat for many hours. This play mat also has a tree cookie tree!
Here is an example of loose parts on a play mat. There is so much thought provoking ideas available to the children here.
The children in the toddler room never tire of Old MacDonald and his farm. The beauty of this play mat is that it could be used for other things as well. Maybe insects would be at home here or it could be used as part of a forest or garden exploration
This quaint mat was created based on the story, "Who Sank the Boat?". Can you see the tree stump on the bottom left corner? There is a little mouse poking his nose out of the little doorway. As well, a river and a cave provide interest.
I was very proud of everyone for their hard work and great ideas. I know the children will all benefit immensely from the storytelling and the imaginative play that these felted mats provide.