Cheapo Kid Fun

Looking for something fast/cheap/easy/fun/educational with which to entertain and amaze your toddler/preschooler/small child?

Might I suggest a flannel board?

Flatten one of those cardboard boxes you have sitting in your living room (what do you mean, “I don’t keep boxes in the living room”?), tape it that way. Cover with flannel, attach a string on the back, hang on the wall with a nail. Tada! Flannel board!

flannel board

Sorry for the dim, grayish picture. It’s a dim grayish day. Now you need some pictures. I used some that my mother-in-law gave me for Max last winter. At first I was a bit at a loss in terms of what to do with them – I don’t have a bulletin board, after all – but it wasn’t long before I realized that they wanted to live on a flannel board. Just glue felt to their backsides, and voila!

flannel board (1)

Isn’t that fun? Max thinks they’re great. Now, if you’re not familiar with flannel boards, be aware that the pieces don’t stick as firmly as, say, a magnet to the fridge. They stick plenty well enough for kids to tell stories, put them up, take them down, have fun. Whatever.

So let’s review: 1 1/2 yards of flannel – $3.84. 10 pieces of felt – $2.00. Total out-of-pocket cost to me: $5.84, plus tax. Not bad, not bad at all. Your cost will vary, of course, depending on what you have on hand. You can use cardboard, plywood…something stiff, squarish and light. The flannel, of course, is a must (it’s in the name), and you can staple it, tape it, tack it on. For pictures? Whatever you want (as long as they’re not TOO heavy) and just stick felt on the back. Others have recommended velcro or a strip of sandpaper, but I prefer felt. It’s cheap, friendly, comes in a variety of colors – and felt’s never abraded anybody. And that’s it! That’s how to make a flannel board.
I might make Max another board. I’m probably going to make him more/different figures to go on there, and I’m definitely going to make a pouch to corral all of those pieces. But, I bought the flannel when I went to Walmart, and the clouds were really the best I could do when what I really wanted was a nice solid; perhaps a green. Come to think of it, I’m almost sure I saw some solid flannels at Joann’s when we were there. I should go back there, and get some. Huh? What are you implying, of course that’s the only reason I’d go back there so soon. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Uh…

Hey, look – llamas!

flannel board (2)


  1. bezzie says:

    I remember those from gradeschool. Except they were never that pretty!!!! They were that cheesey looking pool table green felt! Blech! Llamas and clouds are much nicer!

  2. Julie says:

    Cuuuuute! My kids are no longer into the flannel boards, but I made one when they were little, and it is a fun, cute, cheap project. As you discovered. The kids and I worked extensively with felt when they were younger, now that I think of it. :)

    True sad story: we moved into our house 15 months ago, and there is still one lone cardboard box full of stuff in the living room. My husband and I keep gesturing towards it and saying, “We should empty that thing this weekend,” and then not doing it. We are a cautionary tale!

  3. Abi says:

    That is such a great idea. Now, I need to find a wall to put it on. And until last week I had a a few boxes in my living room until we got our bookcases and now I’m boxless. Although, I have a ton in the basement. Hee.:razz:

  4. Vashti says:

    My Mom made me one when I was like, two? And I loved it so much that I have a very clear memory of it. I played with it for years. She used all solid crayon colors. The board was one color and then she cut out every different geometric shape she could think up, of all different sizes in all colors. I was so fascinated that I could turn shapes into other shapes by putting them together. She sat on the couch reading or knitting or drawing and I sat on the floor with the board propped up and piles of shapes, and it was heaven, just me and Mom.

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