First, I made this fish one.
Then tonight I made this other, space-themed one:
I haven't sewn down the planet rings yet. I took the photo on my iphone at night, so the clarity isn't very good, but you get the idea. I love that I only need to do 5 or 10 minutes of felt cutting to create a whole new scene for him.
Here is how I made mine. Sorry for the lack of photos. I always figure everything is self explanatory until I go to type it up.
1) Make a mini quilt (note: you could just use a piece of felt and skip this step entirely). Cut two pieces of fabric and a piece of batting, all the same size. Mine is approximately 8 x 15 inches. When cutting, add an inch or so to what you'd like the finished quilt to be (so I would cut 9 x 16 inches) for seam allowances. Place the pieces in this order: one piece of fabric (the backing fabric) WRONG side up, then another piece of fabric (the front fabric) RIGHT side up, then the piece of batting. Place this quilt "sandwich" on your sewing machine, with the batting side up, and sew all the way around, leave an opening of 3 or 4 inches (lock stitch at the beginning and end of the opening). Turn the quilt sandwich inside out through the hole. Hand stitch the opening shut (or just topstitch over it if, like me, you don't mind it showing). Tip: start your sewing machine stitch midway on a side, not at a corner, because otherwise you'll leave your opening at the corner, and it will be more messy to close it up. I make this mistake about 75% of the time. If you don't want to worry about the batting shifting later, you can make some straight quilting lines at this point, or do some decorative ones later. I just realized I will probably add this tomorrow.
3) Cut felt shapes. Make a little snip in the center of each (easiest to just fold it in half and make a small snip).
4) Figure out where you'd like your buttons. Mark with a pen. Sew on buttons by hand. (Yawn. 7 buttons definitely was enough for me).
Infant Bibliophile's Reaction: He walked around the house holding the fish scene happily, and we sat down to work on it together. He couldn't get the shapes onto the buttons (which I was sort of happy about - didn't want it to be so easy it was useless), so we did it twice with me sort of holding the button as he worked it on. Then the next time, he did them all himself, and the next time all himself as well. Awesome! I was so happy with this project. He had a bit of trouble getting them off, and I feared he might tear the felt, but I realized that if you just pull them off slowly, they slip off; once I explained that, he got the concept and pull them off easily. He didn't have any interest after those two times. I think his fingers got tired, but I am going to pull it out again tomorrow with the space scene. I think it is great practice for his hand muscles and dexterity.
Note: I hope you appreciate how I left those pieces of paper on the floor, so that you won't feel bad about your own need to vacuum.
Now, onto the books:
Two on the space theme:
I Want to Be an Astronaut by Byron Barton. Byron Barton is a name many will recognize. We have a read a number of his books about transportation and generally enjoy them. The text in this one is short (4 or 5 words per page), and narrated by a child. I think young space enthusiasts would enjoy it. The reading level is ages 4-8, but I think it would be quite simplistic for a child that old, unless they're using it to learn to read. The reading level may be 4-8 (it does use longish words/phrases like "zero gravity" and "satellite"), but the interest level is probably more like 2-4 years old. The cartoon illustration style is fun, with thick black outlines around the images, and different genders and skin colors of astronauts.
"I want to be an astronaut, / a member of the crew, / and fly on the shuttle"
Bookworm's interest at 2 years, 1 month: He sat through the whole thing happily, but I'm not sure he really understood it.
The Berenstain Bears on the Moon (Bright and Early Books), by Stan and Jan Berenstain. The little Berenstain bears take a trip to the moon, sans parents, but with "one little pup." Fun rhyming text describes their adventure.
"Safe back on the earth. They step out of their ship. 'Wow!' say the bears. 'That was quite a trip!'"
Bookworm's Interest at 2 years, 1 month: He enjoys it. Not a favorite, but he'll sit through the whole thing, and enjoys pointing to the puppy, and doing the 10-9-8-7... countdown to blastoff.
Parent's Peeve: My husband and I both nitpicked that the bears experience zero gravity as they appear to still be accelerating toward the moon, but perhaps we can use our imagination and assume they cut the engines for a few minutes. Also, at the end, they talk about going up to a star one day, which doesn't really seem possible, if by going up to you mean visiting, as in setting foot on. But, hey, it's the Berenstain Bears. And I LOVED them when younger, so I can overlook these things.
Or, if you prefer the fish theme, one we all enjoy is:
Curious George at the Aquarium, by Margret & H.A. Rey. We have had this since the little guy was about 6 months old, when we bought it at a trip to an aquarium. He has always enjoyed it, as have we. It is in his room with him now, where he is fast asleep, so pardon the lack of a full review.
You can check out all of our previous reviews of children's books about fish here.
Questions for Comment:
What are your favorite crafts with felt? I just got 4 yards of it and we have been having a lot of fun with it the last couple of days making felt play scenes. I'm looking forward to trying out some other ideas that I have read about and starred in my reader or tucked away in my mind for some later date. I also got a laminater and fancy little label maker (thank you, G!), so it looks like the preschoolish crafts will be on the up and up around here soon.