This week we’ve been reading The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The story follows a little mouse through a deep, dark wood as he encounters a fox, an owl and a snake and ultimately comes face to face with a fantastical creature – the Gruffalo! Learning to put together and remember a sequence is an important skill and helps children to develop their own abilities to tell stories and recount events. We made a felt board so that Burt could act out the story as we read it and then play with the characters to retell the story in his own words.
Felt boards are a fantastic way of exploring story and character for young children. They can touch and feel the creatures, move them around and make up their own stories, bringing the characters to life. Felt naturally has lots of fibres and when you put two pieces of felt together they gently grip so that they stay together but can also easily be pulled apart. Felt is ideal for a story board as even little fingers can easily move characters around and you can buy it in lots of vibrant colours fairly cheaply.
To make The Gruffalo Felt Board you will need:
- Cereal packet or cardboard
- Sticky tape
- Felt (we used dark brown, light brown, white, light green, dark green, black, orange, purple, pink)
- Sharp Scissors
- Permanent Marker Pen
- Gruffalo Felt Board Template
First I made the felt board. I cut one side from a cereal box and then I lay it on top of a large sheet of bright green felt.
Then, using sticky tape, I folded the excess green felt over the edges of the cardboard and stuck it down. I then put duct tape over the top to secure it. You can cover the back in coloured card if you want to be really neat but as you don’t see the back of the felt board I didn’t think this was necessary. By folding the edges over you should hopefully have soft, neat edges.
Then, I cut out the shapes in the Gruffalo Template. You can either pin the paper templates to the felt and cut around the shape or stick the paper to the felt, cut around the shape, then carefully peel the paper off immediately before it dries and sticks to the felt. I pinned and cut as I wanted my felt figures to be double-sided so I didn’t want to risk damaging the felt. Once you cut out around the templates you should have the basic shapes.
When you have your basic shapes you can use any off-cuts of felt to add details and features to your creatures, or you could use permanent marker pens. I added lots of features to the Gruffalo, including his knobbly knees, terrible claws and purple prickles and they are all simply stuck on with a glue stick. For eyes I cut out circles of felt and then drew a dot in the centre with a Sharpie. Don’t stick your characters to the felt board as the idea is that your little ones can move the creatures around and create their own stories.
For the mouse I added an arm with a layer of dark brown felt underneath a layer of light brown felt on top. I also added a pink tail and ears, mouth, nose and whiskers drawn with a Sharpie. There is also a circle of white felt for an eye.
The owl, fox and snake all have their own details too, including:
- light green markings and an eye for the snake;
- a wing, tail feathers, beak, claws and an eye for the owl; and
- white markings as well as a nose, mouth and whiskers drawn on with a Sharpie for the fox.
I made my felt board characters double-sided as the idea is that the mouse faces one way to meet the fox, owl, snake and Gruffalo and then you can turn him over to revisit the animals walking back through the woods. The Gruffalo is also double-sided as he finally turns to flee the terrifying mouse!
We have had lots of fantastic play and language using the felt board. Burt can retell most of the story and uses the felt board to bring the characters to life, with his own embellishments! I adore this version of The Gruffalo told by Older Single Mum Anya’s fantastic son.
If you want to add more details, or extend the use of the felt board even further you could also make some of the creatures’ habitats for them to run away to.
You can read more about the story that inspired us The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler or discover some more crafts and activities linked to the book.
Have you been inspired by a book to craft, go on an outing or do an activity this week?