Friday, January 11, 2013

How to Felt Marbles/Rocks with Toddlers

If you want to do a fun art project with toddlers that leaves you with a finished product that has more utility than a picture to hang on the fridge, I strongly suggest felting.  Felting is inexpensive, easy, and fun.  What is felting? Felting is when you take wool roving and you agitate it with water/soap or a felting needle until it becomes felt. 

The easiest thing to felt with kids are rocks or marbles.  Aias really enjoys felting rocks that he has found outside on our walks; he likes to think of felting as putting a "blankie" on the rocks.  I like to felt giant marbles and use them as math manipulatives.

Pretty, right!?
Here's what you need to do some felting with toddlers:

- Wool roving: Any colours will do.  I suggest 100% corriedale for felting, but any wool roving will work. You'll probably need about .05 an ounce per rock/marble. 

- Dish soap: Any brand will do.  I use 7th generation because it has fewer chemicals than more mainstream brands.

- Rocks or large marbles

- Felting needle (optional)

Beautiful wool roving in dozens of colours. 
Step One:  Pull off a strip of wool roving that is approximately 5-6 inches long and 1 inch wide.  It should be about 5x the length of the rock or marble you are felting, and slightly wider.

Step Two: Place the rock or marble in the center of the wool roving, and fold the roving over it.

Step Three:  Completely wrap the remaining roving around the rock or marble.

Step Four:  If you have a felting needle, felt the edges together to close any gaps.  If you don't, don't worry about this step.  It makes it a bit easier if you can do this, but it is still possible to felt without doing it.

Step Five:  Pour a dime sized amount of soap on top of your roving-covered rock or marble.

Step Six:  Using your hands, it's time to agitate!  Roll the rock or marble in your hands and get it all soapy.  You'll notice the wool roving will begin to get tighter around your rock or marble.  Keep doing this!

Step Seven:  Add a few drops of water, and continue agitating.

Step Eight: Keep doing it!  Go until it gets super tight around the rock or marble.  You may need to move the roving around a bit to cover any gaps or holes.  Your first one may not be perfect, but you'll get the feel for it in time.

Step Nine: When you feel the rock or marble is sufficiently covered, rinse!  Hold your newly felted rock or marble under warm water and agitate it until the water runs clear of bubbles.


You may think "wow, my toddler would never sit through something like this..." and who knows, maybe you are right.  I thought the same thing at first.  I actually learned how to do this in a child care course and learned it within the context of it being the PERFECT activity to do with toddlers.  I think you will be surprised how interested a toddler will be with this activity and the finished product.  If you want to entire your toddlers to do it and to actively participate, I suggest you have a finished product to show them first, and then say "would you like to make one of these?"  That's how I got interest out of Aias and the kids I watch.  Even the most active kid seems to be able to focus on this fun project. 

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