Playing and Teaching with Needle Felted Masks

Let's play

You know, I like my pieces of art to be useful; save for the specific holiday pieces that will be stored away till next year. I made these animal masks for Halloween, but they’ll be very useful all year round for imaginative play. I’m going to hang them in the playroom and let the girls and their friends play dress up with them and at the same time I think they’ll make interesting decorations. The masks are very strong and they’ll hold up well in the hands of a bunch of kids. 

Needle felted pig mask

I’ve recently started to teach English to a little four and a half year old French girl and my toys and masks have become very useful in teaching her new words. The toys and masks engage her, she wants to play with them and they give me the perfect opportunity to teach her new words and ideas. I think that an activity helps her to remember new words as we use the words over and over again. I also draw with her (she doesn’t read or write yet), so I draw pictures of the words we’re learning (usually one of the toys I’ve made) and then she draws what I’ve drawn and then we play with the toy in the picture. Her reward for studying 20-30 minutes is playtime at the end of the lesson. 

Needle felted sheep mask

We made a game out of the masks. After Matilde found my masks sitting on a table, she put them on and started trotting around the room with a cow mask on her face. I asked her what the animal said (moo) and then I told her the name of the animal (cow). We did this for all six masks. I laid all six masks in a row on the table and told her to choose the correct mask according to the sound or word that I said. Moo, cow,  baaa or sheep, she needed to choose the correct mask for the word or sound that I made. This has been a very successful game, as now she know the words and sounds for cow, horse, sheep, dog, cat and rooster! Next we’ll learn what theses animals do, like run, stand, eat, sleep, walk, etc.

Needle felted cat mask

Costume accessories rule!

A witch hat is a great costume accessory

Looking back, the whole costume charade was fun and transforming for kids, but I think that simple costume accessories can be just as creative, more affordable and easily made at home.  

The top hat and cape ARE the costume for the magician.

  The best accessories are hats and capes. 

Versatile black and red cape, vampire or magician
medieval knight's cape, costume or accessory

  This medieval knight’s cape can be an accessory for a more detailed costume or it can work as the costume alone.  

Excalibur sword, accessories for knights and warriors

Fabric weapons are another great accessory; I know, I know, you try to discourage your child playing with such things, but in the end, a stick becomes an outlaws knife or a spoon is suddenly a cowboy’s gun. This fierce sword (as well as the crown and super hero cape and mask) are  projects in my book Sew Magical for Kids. The book includes easy sewing instructions and patterns for these accessories.  

King or Queen's cape, a beautiful costume accessory.

  This king or queen cape can be made in several different colors and lengths to alter the look. Don’t forget the crown!  

Royal crown and ruff accessories

 This beautiful, adjustable crown is very easy to make, it can be made out of many different materials such as felt, lame or cotton.