Why make your own felt letter people?
Preschool teachers and parents are in a tough spot these days! We want to prepare our children for the crazy-high standards they will encounter in kindergarten, but we also know the consequences of pushing academics too early. The solution, of course, is to make learning SO much fun that it just feels like play!
As I was reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to my boys a little while ago, I started thinking about how the thing that makes it so great is the way the letters are characters. It’s just a fun and playful story, but as you read it, those letters are all there, and the children are connecting to them. I was wondering how I could do that in an even bigger way- to turn letters into objects that my kids would want to play with, and would allow them to organically practice letter recognition during their games.
And so, I bring you… AlphaBuddies!
I’m not going to lie, these stuffed felt letters are a lot of work to make. I decided to make my own because I couldn’t find any to buy online and because I like having busy work to do with my hands, but I’ll warn you that this project is probably going to take a while! Still, I think they are adorable and SO worth it!
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You will need;
Craft felt (Make sure you have at least 52 pieces-two per letter! It’s preferable to have two pieces of the same color felt for each letter.)
A needle and Thread (I just used black or white so the stitches would blend in, but you could get different colors to either match or contrast, depending on the look you’re going for)
Paint brushes and something small and cylindrical (like a glue stick) for painting and a marker to draw the letters.
Here are the steps I followed;
First, line up two pieces of felt in the same color.
I tried to match the felt colors to the letter sounds (e.g. A- Aqua, B-black, C-chocolate…R-red, Y-yellow and etc). It means they don’t look as cohesive if you line them up in alphabetical order but it creates an additional way to learn with them! Draw the shape of the letter on the top piece of felt.
(I drew letter shapes freehand instead of printing a template because the felt is larger than 8.5 x 11 and I wanted to make the letters as large as possible!)
Then hold the two pieces of felt together and cut them out along the outline
Take the scraps of felt and cut out two little arms with hands on the ends.
Paint on the faces!
I was pretty fancy when I painted the A, with pictures and words on the back as well! I soon discovered that it took forever.
So for the rest of the letters I scaled back to a much simpler method:
First, I stamped two eyes with white paint using the end of a glue stick as my stamp!
I added two black dots for the pupils with a tiny brush
Then I used a slightly bigger brush to do the smile- one sweep from left to right gave them these adorable little crooked grins!
Once they’re dry, you can start sewing!
I sewed these by hand using a blanket stitch to make them as durable as possible. If you need step-by-step directions, there’s a good tutorial here.
If the letter you’re working on has a hole in the center, it’s best to sew the hole first. (If you’re working in alphabetical order, I will warn you that B is the only letter with two center holes, meaning it’s the biggest pain to sew. Don’t get discouraged! The rest are easier.)
When you’re going around the outside, it’s best to start somewhere in the middle so you can go 3/4 of the way around and still reach everywhere to stuff it. I usually start near where one of the hands will go and do a few stitches.
When you get to the spot where you want the hands to go, slip the end of the arm between the layers of felt and sew a few knots to lock it in place. Then do a running stitch across the arm, stitch another knot on the other side, and return to the blanket stitch as you go around.
Continue around the outside until you get to the other arm, then repeat the arm-sewing procedure. Stop when you’ve gone about 3/4 of the way around, depending on the shape of the letter, then stuff it as full as you can. Don’t be stingy with the stuffing!
It is helpful to use pins to hold the felt together as you sew up the last little bit.
Tie some good knots and you’re done!
Aaaaaand….. repeat 25 times!
Like I said, this project requires some serious time commitment! But really, how adorable are they?
When I finish the alphabet (it could be a while!) I’ll update this post with pictures of all of them!
It’s time to play with your alphabet friends!
I can’t wait to have these set up in our playroom! As the boys grow, I’m hoping these plush alphabet characters will just be playthings, and they’ll get to know them like friends, without even realizing they’re getting ready for reading! I might even have the felt letters sing a special “song” that incorporates the letter sound when we’re playing!
I can’t wait to build houses for the felt letters out of blocks, take them on adventures, or maybe have them search for and collect things that start with their sounds! Maybe we’ll get crazy and make them some cardboard box houses, decorated with pictures of things that start with that letter! Who knows?
How would you use these in your house or classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!
For more DIY toy ideas, click Here! or for some really exciting and FREE printable books that use pictures of the AlphaBuddies to teach letters, colors, and sight words, check out my AlphaBuddies In Color: Free Printable Readers!
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