My favourite part of teaching young children is how completely they dive into play. Last week I set up a little “house” centre for the in the classroom – nothing fancy, just a few dishes, a saucepan, some tablecloths, plastic dishes, and a 2-d kitchen sink and stove made of paper and taped to two desks. They LOVE it though, and it is just wonderful to see them diligently “washing” dishes and inviting the neighbours for some imaginary mac and cheese! Heartwarming and adorable.
One thing our “house” is lacking is some dolls. There’s something about a baby doll that brings out the best in children: nurturing, caring, and taking responsibility. I asked the class for donation, but didn’t get any… so instead, I made some!
Voila! I love sewing with felt. It’s so quick and easy! I usually use wool blend felt, but I was lucky to find a stash of cheap craft felt left in the basement from my Mom’s teaching days! Even better, there was a great range of skin and hair colour options – which is lucky, because my own felt stash is all rainbow colours and no basics at all. I painted their faces on with acrylic paint… complete with rosy cheeks to make them extra kawaii (cute)!
I tried a couple of different consturction methods, so each on is, um, unique. I had fun trying to make them as gender-neutral as possible (except perhaps for the blond with long hair and a floral shirt!) Better to let the kids decide what fits their play best. I looked at all kinds of beautiful softy patterns on Etsy and Pinterest before I started making them, but decided just to draft my own. They are nothing fancy – Each only took about 30 min from start to finish. I think that sometimes simple toys allow kids to use more imagination… and on top of that, I’m lazy! 5 year olds aren’t exactly gentle with their toys, so these little guys need to be ready for a rough and tumble life. If I was sewing a special gift for someone in particular, I’d probably be more careful!
I made puppets! Too tiny for my hands, but hopefully right for little ones. Elephant and Piggie are my favourite children’s book characters (hilariously written by Mo Willems). We’ve already read 7 or 8 of the books in class, so I thought some puppets would help with retelling stories and creating new ones!
What books and games did you love as a kid? (I remember loving my child-sized art/writing table in the living room – So much fun with markers and paper!) Do you have any go-to sewing gifts for kids? I always think I’ll be inspired to make something for infants, but I think I’m more motivated to make things for slightly older tots!