About Using Felt Kits

Using felt kits.
Felt kits are a valuable resource for any educator, teacher, parent or carer. They can be used in solitary play, small group play and larger group times or circle times. There are some people who would be very familiar with using felt stories or "fuzzy felts". There are some people who have never heard of using felt stories. So, I'd like to share some of the reasons I love using felt kits with children. 
What are felt kits?
Felt kits or felt boards comprise of various pieces or shapes of cut out felt. Sometimes they are embellished, sometimes they are plain. These pieces or shapes might be random or a collection of a theme or scene, such as a dinosaur pack. Needle + Felt specialises in creating kits that are based on stories, or songs.
Incy Wincy Spider
Why use felt kits?
When children use felt kits they engage in using many skills and build upon their development as learners through their play. The point of difference with using a felt kit, is that children get to be included in the process of telling a story. They get to touch the felt pieces, arrange them, place them and organise them. It takes listening to a story to the next level, because they get to build the story. Not only will children use their senses as they touch, look at and explore the pieces, but they will use their cognitive abilities to sort, sequence, organise and categorise. Story telling builds on children's literacy and language development, as they converse or talk about what's happening and ask or respond to questions. Felt kits also provide a great way for a child to explore their own ideas, understandings of the world around them and their imagination. Children explore social skills such as talking to each other, listening to each others ideas and taking turns. They also engage their fine motor skills as they play.
Needle and Felt Emotions Dress Up Felt Kit
How do you use them?
There are many ways to use felt kits! If you are new to using felt kits it's best to start with stories or songs you are most familiar with, so you will be more comfortable setting the pieces out and telling the story with children.
When using a felt kit it's a great idea to be organised. You might like to lay all the pieces out next to you or have them in an accessible basket. It's also handy to have the story or your story card included in your kit close to you, if you prefer. 
Here are my suggestions of surfaces to place your felt pieces on:
- A felt mat such as our roll up mats
- A table or the floor
- A felt board or easel with felt
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Needle and Felt @cameronroad.familydaycare
If you are using your felt kits with a small group, our roll up mats are great. A table makes a great surface also though, for a slightly larger group to use the felt kits in a communal manner. For this, you might like to have some baskets or bowls with felt pieces in them. Our felt mats help create a 'frame' for children, to build their story onto. Like a piece of paper creates a space for a painting to be made, same idea with our felt mats. 
For larger groups such as circle times or group times, it's important to consider the size of the group, and the amount of pieces in the felt kit. It's ideal to give children several turns of building the story if they are going to be involved in such a process. Children can take turns to contribute pieces to the story onto the felt board or easel. You can encourage children to predict what is going to happen next in the story, before you tell the next few lines of the tale. Just like you would when you read them a story book. 
Needle and Felt The Very Hungry Caterpillar Felt Kit
Are felt kits open ended? 
Yes! They can be as open ended as you like. Here are some of the ways I love to use them, myself.
- Use them without telling the story to the child, by retelling it and recreating it with them in a new way.
- Provide several kits in the child's play space, for them to mix and match and create their own story.
- Provide props, such as a saucepan and a mixing spoon with the felt kit Stone Soup, for example.
Needle and Felt Stone Soup Felt Kit
As the adult, you can be as involved as you like. You could be the story teller or the listener. Children can use them on their own, together with a peer or as part of a group. Just because they come as a story, a song, a scene or a theme, doesn't meant that's the way you have to use it. Be creative and find what works for you.

Plant Life Cycle Needle and Felt